A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for April 2019

[AH] Five #alternatehistory maps from r/imaginarymaps: UK-Dutch, Patagonias, Virginia, Japan, Europe

  • This r/imaginarymaps map imagines a united Anglo-Dutch state. Could such have ever have occurred?
  • This r/imaginarymaps map, one in a series, imagines a Patagonia divided between multiple rival powers perhaps after the Guyanas. Could Patagonia, only recently incorporated into Argentina and Chile, have seen something like this?
  • This is a perhaps-optimistic depiction of the territory that a #Virginia independent of the United States might have held. In a no-US timeline, how far could it have gotten?
  • This r/imaginarymaps map sees the Empire of Japan as a bulwark against Communism in Asia, even taking Australia and New Zealand under its aegis. Too, see its protectorate over the Russian Far East.
  • This r/imaginarymaps map, imagining a European Federation circa 2004, makes an important point: The earlier that Europe unifies, the more geographically restricted its membership will be.

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Mississauga, Montréal, Thunder Bay, Port-au-Prince, London

  • The City of Mississauga is encouraging residents to take part in a postal campaign to push for independence from Peel Region. Global News reports.
  • A Montréal city councillor wants the city to try to get a world’s fair in 2030. CTV reports.
  • April Lindgren at The Conversation considersthe important role that local media in Thunder Bay can play in dealing, with, among other issues, Indigenous concerns.
  • Amy Wilentz considers at The Atlantic whether France, after the devastation of Notre-Dame in Paris, should perhaps contribute to the reconstruction of the cathedral of Port-au-Prince, a decade after its destruction in the earthquake that devastated an already poor ex-French Haiti.
  • Ben Rogers at Open Democracy makes the case for seeing London, despite its position as a global city, as also a metropolis inextricably at the heart of England, too.

[URBAN NOTE] Seven Toronto links: High Park, rent, Sri Lanka, vertical farm, Zizek vs Peterson

  • The cherry blossoms of High Park are expected to start blooming earlier than expected, perhaps reaching peak bloom in a week’s time. blogTO reports.
  • blogTO notes that someone was trying to rent out a bed in an occupied apartment for a rent of $C 600 a month.
  • A Toronto Star investigation reveals the prominence of ghost hotels, enabled by Airbnb, in making the rental housing market that much more difficult.
  • At NOW Toronto, Liam Barrington-Bush considers what renters in Toronto can learn from their activist counterparts in Berlin and Barcelona.
  • Aparita Bhandari wrote at The Discourse about how Sri Lankans living in Scarborough responded to the recent terrible bombings.
  • blogTO writes about the new vertical farm set to be built at University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus.
  • The VICE account of the debate between Slavoj Zizek and Jordan Peterson reveals much.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • In an extended meditation, Antipope’s Charlie Stross considers what the domestic architecture of the future will look like. What different technologies, with different uses of space, will come into play?
  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait looks at the new SPECULOOS exoplanet hunting telescope, specializing in the search for planets around the coolest stars.
  • The Crux looks at the evolutionary origins of hominins and chimpanzees in an upright walking ape several million years ago.
  • D-Brief notes the multiple detections of gravitational waves made by LIGO.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at the development of laser weapons by China.
  • Karen Sternheimer at the Everyday Sociology Blog looks at the gap between social theory and field research.
  • Gizmodo shares an interesting discussion with paleontologists and other dinosaur experts: What would the dinosaurs have become if not for the Chixculub impact?
  • Hornet Stories notes the ways in which the policies of the Satanic Temple would be good for queer students.
  • io9 notes how the Deep Space 9 documentary What We Leave Behind imagines what a Season 8 would have looked like.
  • Joe. My. God. reports that activist Jacob Wohl is apparently behind allegations of a sexual assault by Pete Buttigieg against a subordinate.
  • JSTOR Daily takes a look at the uses of the yellow ribbon in American popular culture.
  • Language Hat shares an account of the life experiences of an Israeli taxi driver, spread across languages and borders.
  • Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns and Money makes deserved fun of Bret Easton Ellis for his claims to having been marginalized.
  • Marginal Revolution considers, briefly, the idea that artificial intelligence might not be harmful to humans. (Why would it necessarily have to be?)
  • The NYR Daily considers a British exhibition of artworks by artists from the former Czechoslovakia.
  • Peter Rukavina looks at gender representation in party caucuses in PEI from the early 1990s on, noting the huge surge in female representation in the Greens now.
  • The Signal looks at how the Library of Congress is preserving Latin American monographs.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel explains how Einstein knew that gravity must bend light.
  • Window on Eurasia explains the sharp drop in the ethnic Russian population of Tuva in the 1990s.

[PHOTO] Disembarked, Niagara Falls train station

VIA Rail’s $C 23 one-way ticket to Niagara Falls makes use of the convenient Maple Leaf train that crosses the Canadian-American border at Niagara Falls. When the train arrives at the Niagara Falls station, the passengers who had intended to go to Niagara Falls disembark along with the VIA Rail crews, while the Amtrak crews who take the Maple Leaf across the border get on.

Disembarked #ontario #niagarafalls #niagara #rail #viarail #amtrak #train

Written by Randy McDonald

April 30, 2019 at 11:00 am

[PHOTO] Across Hamilton Harbour (#hamont)

Across Hamilton Harbour  #hamont #hamiltonharbour #morning #skyline

Across Hamilton Harbour (2) #hamont #hamiltonharbour #morning #skyline

Written by Randy McDonald

April 30, 2019 at 10:00 am

[PHOTO] Three photos of the Great Hall, Union Station

Looking up and west from the stairs #toronto #unionstation #greathall #arch #architecture

Looking up and east #toronto #unionstation #greathall #arch #flags #architecture

Departures #toronto #unionstation #greathall #departures #schedule #rail #viarail

Written by Randy McDonald

April 30, 2019 at 9:00 am

[BRIEF NOTE] Some thoughts on the mass transit gaps of Canada

After VIA Rail’s service from Toronto to Niagara Falls, Ontario dropped us off in that border city’s train station yesterday morning, I went inside the station to (among other things) take a look. I was interested to see the below map, depicting the GO Transit service network in southern Ontario. Niagara Falls is literally on the uttermost edge of the network, the southeasternmost extension of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area’s regional commuting network.

GO System Map #ontario #niagarafalls #niagara #gta #southernontario #gotransit #map

I’ll be sorting through the very enjoyable day trip to Niagara Falls for some time; sharing some of my photos is going to take up a fair amount of space, for instance. One thing that did impress me, as a Torontonian visiting from the city, was the extent to which Niagara Falls was physically removed from the heart of the Golden Horseshoe, could be substantially inaccessible even. The VIA Rail trip out in the morning was perfectly good, a comfortable ride two hours’ long that was only five minutes late, but it was not matched by a corresponding train trip back–we had to book a return trip on GO Transit, an express bus to Burlington and then a commuter rail ride east to Toronto. Had it not been for the combination of VIA and GO Transit service, we wouldn’t have been able to get there save by bus.

I live in the heart of a region that, by Canadian standards, is absurdly well-served by transit options. GO Transit does stretch far and wide, extending to Hamilton and Kitchener and Barrie and Oshawa, and bus routes do extend beyond these cities to smaller centres like Niagara Falls and Peterborough, but beyond that? Talk of developing a high-speed rail connection between Toronto and the southwest Ontario city of London have been dismissed by the new provincial government, with talk of perhaps increasing VIA Rail service, but I am unaware of this talk being solidified. There was a brief flurry of excitement this year when the mayor of Niagara Falls, New York, talked of extending commuter rail from Toronto to his city, and that does appeal to me; better yet, I think, also extend GO Transit just a bit further too, to connect to a Buffalo that while more distant from Toronto than Hamilton is also larger than Hamilton. The border, alas, is going to intervene. The Golden Horsehose will remain connected, but cities and destinations just tantalizingly out of reach will remain tantalizingly out of reach to people who do not own vehicles, to the deficit of these cities and to the Golden Horseshoe, too.

Beyond this, what do things look like for mass transit? There are, as best as I can tell, no transit links to such an eminently day-trippable community as Port Hope, just one hour’s trip east of Toronto. The Québec City-Windsor Corridor as a whole remains connected by bus and rail routes, but only barely; I cannot help but think that the lack of affordable transit connections in the arguable core of Canada is a good thing. And beyond Central Canada, mass transit options are scarce. Prince Edward Island can barely sustain decent bus routes within and between its major cities, with even the North Shore remaining consigned to private shuttles, for instance, while Atlantic Canada as a whole is lacking. At least things are better than in Western Canada, where a Greyhound hit hard by long distances and high costs has shut down most of its routes, leaving small communities especially disconnected from the wider country and with successors apparently unclear as to how they can fill the gap.

I am lucky in that I only find Niagara Falls a bit complicated to reach, and London offputting. Others outside the Golden Horseshoe, and the well-serviced conurbations of the Québec City-Windosr corridor, face worse fates, trapped in their communities without access to the wider world and facing terrible risks as they try to get out. The so-called “Highway of Tears” in northern British Columbia, known as being a haunt for murderers of women, could only take on this role in the first place because of the need of women to hitchhike for want of any other way to leave.

I can easily make the argument that much more funding is required for mass transit in Canada, to make it much easier for Canadians to move from one community to another. A Canada arbitrarily parceled out into communities of various sizes, each disconnected from each other with the costs of individual travel making regular travel inaccessible to most people, is a Canada that is poorer in so many ways. Why public policy in Canada has not sought to remedy this, if not through direct investment in new transit infrastructure then at least through subsidies to private companies like Greyhound, is beyond me. I would have thought the gains obvious. Far-sighted politicians should seize on this, I’d think, as an issue they can at least try to deal with.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait considers the possibility that interstellar objects like ‘Oumuamua might help planets consdense in young systems.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly explains the genesis of news stories.
  • Centauri Dreams explores a remarkable thesis of somehow intelligent, living even, mobile stars.
  • Citizen Science Blog reports on an ingenious effort by scientists to make use of crowdsourcing to identify venerable trees in a forest.
  • The Crux takes a look at the idea of rewilding.
  • D-Brief takes a look at how active auroras can lead to satellite orbits decaying prematurely.
  • Bruce Dorminey reports on a new finding suggesting that the suspected exomoon given the name Kepler-162b I does not exist.
  • JSTOR Daily takes a look at the incident that led to the concept of Stockholm syndrome.
  • Language Log takes a look at the idea of someone having more than one native language. Is it even possible?
  • Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at how trade war with the EU is hurting the bourbon industry of the United States.
  • The LRB Blog reports on the aftermath in Peru of the startling suicide of former president Alan Garcia.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper suggesting that rising health care costs have hurt the American savings rate and the wider American economy.
  • Russell Darnley takes a look at the innovative fish weirs of the Aborigines on Australia’s Darling River.
  • The NYR Daily takes a look at Russian Doll and the new era of television.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes the formal end of the Mars rover expeditions. Spirit and Opportunity can rest easy.
  • Drew Rowsome praises Out, a one-man show at Buddies in Bad Times exploring what it was like to be out in the late 1970s.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel notes that a search for dark matter has revealed evidence of the radioactive decay of pretty but not perfectly stable isotope xenon-124.
  • Window on Eurasia considers the likely impact of new Ukrainian president Volodymir Zelensky on Ukrainian autocephaly.
  • Arnold Zwicky celebrated the penguin drawings of Sandra Boynton, starting from her World Penguin Day image from the 25th of April.

[PHOTO] Looking north at a ship on the Welland Canal near St. Catharines

Looking north at a ship on the Welland Canal #ontario #niagara #stcatharines #wellandcanal #ships #boats #canal #evening

Written by Randy McDonald

April 29, 2019 at 4:00 pm