A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for the ‘Meta’ Category

[META] A Bit More Detail is up on Facebook!

A Bit More Detail is now Facebook page! Please like and follow if you want to see this content there.

Alex Colville, To Prince Edward Island

Today is actually the first day that A Bit More Detail, the Facebook portal for my blogging, is in operation. I’m a bit embarrassed that it’s taken so long to do this, to separate this activity from my personal profile, but I’m glad that I did so. It’s time, I think, that I should formalize this activity; well past time, I think, that I should carve out a niche.

I took the name “A Bit More Detail”–more precisely, the idea for that name–from a wonderful passage in Harold Nicolson’s Peacemaking 1919, pages 275 to 276. On those pages, that diplomat and modernist shared a wonderful anecdote of a conversation he shared with Proust.

Proust is white, unshaven, grubby, slip-faced. He puts his fur coat on afterwards and sits hunched there in white kid gloves. Two cups of black coffee he has, with chunks of sugar. Yet in his talk there is no affectation. He asks me questions. Will I please tell him how the Committees work? I say, ‘Well, we generally meet at 10.0, there are secretaries behind. . . . ‘ ‘Mais non, amis non, vous allez trop vite. Recommencez. Vous prenez la voiture de la Délégation. Vous descendez au Quai d’Orsay. Vous montez l’escalier. Vous entrez dans la Salle. Et alors? Précisez, mon cher, précisez.’ So I tell him everything. The sham cordiality of it all: the handshakes: the maps: the rustle of papers: the tea in the next room: the macaroons. He listens enthralled, interrupting from time to time–‘Mais précisez, mon cher monsieur, n’allez pas trop vite.’

That provision of detail about things that are overlooked, the subtle things that can determine the flavour of much larger things, is something I have been trying to do for all these years. I did blunder into this after I got started on Livejournal in 2002, if not before; Usenet and Yahoo Groups was not blogging, but they were something. Toronto and cities, Prince Edward Island and islands, trends in economics and demographics and pop culture–these are some of my areas of expertise.

In exchange, I hope you’ll come and visit: The comments are open, and I’m always interested in talking and learning more from others. I want to provide a good space here for discussion and exploration. I would also like to use this space as a platform for doing more, for long-form writing and for action: 2018 has done a very good job of convincing me that simply watching is an activity that is not longer justifiable.

I sincerely hope that you’ll follow me at A Bit More Detail, joining the dozens of people who have already signed up. Let’s look together at some of the interesting corners of our world.

Dividing line

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • First, a new blog. The Buzz…About Books, official blog of the Toronto Public Library’s Book Buzz, has interesting book-related posts. I liked this one from last December, noting the most popular books in dozens of neighbourhoods according to TPL stats.
  • Centauri Dreams celebrates the life and achievements, as a writer and as a dreamer, of Ursula K Le Guin.
  • D-Brief notes that yesterday was NASA’s Day of Remembrance for lost astronauts, and takes a close look at the Columbia disaster 15 years ago.
  • Hornet Stories notes a recent interview with Tonya Harding, famous again thanks to I, Tonya, that takes a look at some of her more controversial opinions. (Is the pro-Trump enough to prevent her from being some sort of camp icon, I wonder?)
  • JSTOR Daily links to a paper examining the import of artificial intelligence victories in board games, like Go, over human players. Of course simple iterations are able to overcome human-style intelligence, so long as you go through enough iterations at least.
  • Language Hat notes how many languages, and dialects of languages, can survive in far-removed immigrant enclaves. Greek in Ohio is used as one example.
  • Marginal Revolution imagines, through the person of an athlete, what it would be like for someone to know all the data that is to be known about them. (I think it could be empowering.)
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw shares his sad thoughts about how, in an age of instant and potentially overwhelming digital outrage in a polarizing era, he resorts to self-censorship.
  • The Planetary Society Blog explores the work of scientists who are assembling a guidebook indicating what the spectra of Earth-like worlds, at different stages of their history and orbiting different stars, will look like.
  • Drew Rowsome takes a look at how #metoo is revealing sexual harassment and assault everywhere, among gay and straight, in Ontario and abroad.
  • Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy demonstrates that the anti-immigration policies of Trump show the man is uninterested, as some would have it, in deregulation.
  • Understanding Society examines the question of how organizations can ensure that their members will act in compliance with stated organizational values.
  • Window on Eurasia s the ongoing emigration of ethnic Russians from the North Caucasus, a massive and–I suspect–irreversible migration.

[META] Six new blogs on the blogroll

I will be doing the hard work of installing these six blogs on my blogroll later this weekend. For now, suffice it to say that these six blogs, still-extant islands in a blogosphere in a state of transformation, are going to be the last I’ll be adding for some time. It can be hard to keep up with them all.

  • Daily JSTOR is the famed scholarly archive’s blog. This 1 November post, timed for Nanowrimo, sharing some inspiring quotes from writers about writing, is fun.
  • The blog by Lyman Stone, In a State of Migration, has great analyses of demographic issues in the United States and wider world. This recent post, looking at what it would take to–as the alt-right would wish–“make America white” and the enormous costs of this goal, is worth noting.
  • Information is Beautiful, by famed data journalist David McCandless has all sorts of fantastic infographics. I recommend this one, looking at the United Kingdom’s options re: Brexit.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education’s blog Lingua Franca takes a look at language and writing. This recent post, analyzing the complexities and challenges of George Orwell’s thought on freedom of expression, is very good.
  • Noahpinion is the blog of Bloomberg writer Noah Smith. I quite liked this older essay, one noting that cyberpunk’s writers seem to have gotten the future, unlike other writers in other SF subgenres. Does rapid change lead to bad predictions?
  • Salmagundi is a blog by an anonymous gay Kentucky writer touching on the subjects of his life and more. The most recent post is this link to an essay by Bruce Snider, talking about the lack of rural gay poets.

Yes, I know that traditional blogging is dying. It may be more appropriate to say that it is irreversibly fragmented. Some blogged have headed towards the short snappy sharing of links on photos enabled by (among other platforms) Twitter and Instagram, some migrating to places like Medium where long-form content has a home, and still others have simply dropped out in favour of fora in gates ecosystems like Facebook. Things happen.

All that said, what blogs–or other accounts–do you still read? Are there writers on Medium, or elsewhere, that you like? What about Twitter or Instagram accounts of note?

Please, discuss. Share your perspectives in the comments.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 15, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Posted in Meta, Popular Culture, Writing

Tagged with , ,

[META] On the latest two blogs on the blogroll

  • I’ve added Sean CW Korsgaard’s Korsgaard’s Commentary, a blog focusing on cultural reviews. In one interesting recent post, Korsgaard makes the case for the excellence of the 1999 film The Mummy.
  • Toronto writer and critic Drew Rowsome also has his own blog. He has recently shared his shortlist of picks for the Toronto Fringe festival.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 30, 2017 at 8:45 am

[META] On the latest blogroll expansion

I’ve added two blogs this morning, one old and one new.

  • Aziz Poonawalla’s City of Brass, a blog dealing with Islam and minority issues, is newly added. His most recent post there, drawing from the Chicago Dyke March Jewish flag event to that intersectionality is too limited a concept, makes an interesting argument.
  • LGBTQ-themed blog Unicorn Booty is a group blog that covers many queer issues. I would recommend one recent post reporting on the erasure of the nature of the Pulse massacre in Orlando by Trump (and others).

Written by Randy McDonald

June 28, 2017 at 8:15 am

[WRITING] On losing things, and finding new things

Back one day in March, I accidentally and irretrievably deleted the private entry on Dreamwidth that had contained links to URLs and details on sources that I had been saving for future posts for perhaps a couple of years. I was a bit upset by this, but, I soon realized, I was more upset by my accidental deletion of the entry than by the loss. This private document, full of links pointing to possible future writings, had become baggage, something to be periodically updated and then consistently forgotten.

This realization prompted me to a rethinking of what I am doing, as a writer and a blogger and a person active on social media. What, exactly, am I doing? Why am I doing this? What should I be doing?

I am still thinking. Suffice it to say that something different will be coming. If I don’t decide to make sure this difference will arrive thanks to my effort, well, who will do that?

Written by Randy McDonald

June 9, 2017 at 11:30 pm

Posted in Meta, Non Blog, Writing

Tagged with , , ,