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[URBAN NOTE] Some Saturday links

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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait considers the possibility that our model for the evolution of galaxies might be partially disproven by Big Data.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly reports how she did her latest article for the New York Times.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the beginning of a search for habitable-zone planets around Alpha Centauri A and B.
  • The Crux looks at how the skull trophies of the ancient Maya help explain civilizational collapse.
  • D-Brief notes new evidence suggesting that our humble, seemingly stable Sun can produce superflares.
  • Dead Things reports on the latest informed speculation about the sense of smell of Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  • The Dragon’s Tales shares the NASA report on its progress towards the Lunar Gateway station.
  • Gizmodo looks at the growing number of China’s beautiful, deadly, blooms of bioluminescent algae.
  • io9 reports that Stjepan Sejic has a new series with DC, exploring the inner life of Harley Quinn.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at an example of a feminist musical, the Chantal Akerman The Eighties.
  • Language Hat links to a review of a dystopian novel by Yoko Tawada, The Emissary, imagining a future Japan where the learning of foreign languages is banned.
  • Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money reiterates that history, and the writing of history, is an actual profession with skills and procedures writers in the field need to know.
  • Liam Shaw writes at the LRB Blog about how people in London, late in the Second World War, coped with the terrifying attacks of V2 rockets.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a new book, Wayfinding, about the neuroscience of navigation.
  • Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution reviews a Robert Zubrin book advocating the colonization of space and finds himself unconvinced.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the ancient comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko explored by the ESA Rosetta probe.
  • Roads and Kingdoms provides tips for visitors to the Paraguay capital of Asuncion.
  • Peter Rukavina reports that, on the day the new PEI legislature came in, 105% of Island electricity came from windpower.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel argues that, in searching for life, we should not look for exoplanets very like Earth.
  • Strange Company shares another weekend collection of diverse links.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little shares the views of Margaret Gilbert on social facts.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Kadyrov might dream of a broad Greater Chechnya, achieved at the expense of neighbouring republics.
  • Arnold Zwicky considers some superhero identity crises, of Superman and of others.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Bad Astronomy notes how, in galaxy 3XMM J150052.0+015452 1.8 billion light-years away, a black hole has been busily eating a star for a decade.
  • Centauri Dreams considers how relativistic probes might conduct astronomy. How would their measurements be changed by these high speeds?
  • The Crux reports on how scientists are trying to save the platypus in its native rivers of Australia.
  • D-Brief reports on the quiet past of Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on UAV news from around the world.
  • Joe. My. God. reports a statement by a Trump biography suggesting that the American president believes in not following laws because of his belief in his own “genetic superiority”.
  • JSTOR Daily reports on the importance of the longleaf pine in the history of the United States.
  • Language Hat considers, in the case of Australia, the benefits of reviving indigenous languages.
  • Abigail Nussbaum at Lawyers, Guns and Money considers how the success of Israel in hosting Eurovision is a blow against the Netanyahu government.
  • James Butler at the LRB Blog looks at the peculiar position of private schools in the UK, and their intersection with public life.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at a paper analyzing two centuries of British writers noting that productivity was boosted for the least productive if they lived in London.
  • The NYR Daily notes the end of famed French periodical Les temps modernes.
  • Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society Blog notes the expected crash of Chinese smallsat Longjiang-2 from its lunar orbit at the end of July.
  • Noel Maurer at The Power and the Money notes how ex-president of Argentina Cristina Fern├índez, running for election this year, was lucky in having the economic crash occur after the end of her presidency.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel explains the different reasons behind the blues of the sky and the ocean.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that three hundred thousand Russians have died of HIV/AIDS since the virus manifested on Soviet territory in the late 1980s, with more deaths to come thanks to mismanagement of the epidemic.

[NEWS] Five LGBTQ links: Wild West, transphobia, alt-right, gay priests, books and community

  • Hornet Stories looks at the queer history of the Wild West.
  • Gwen Benaway writes movingly at Daily Xtra about the great harm transphobia continues to cause her, about how it continues to worsen her life and the lives of other trans people.
  • This study suggesting that gay men, in political party systems like those of Europe where homophobia is not a polarizing force, often vote for bigoted right-wingers of one strand or another is not a surprise. Sadly.
  • This Elizabeth Dias article at the New York Times examining the struggles and joys of gay priests of the Catholic Church, some few being out in this article, is moving.
  • Joseph Osmundson writes movingly at Guernica Magazine about how, for him as a queer man growing into adulthood, the world of literature provided a much-needed knowledge of the past and his future. This resonates for me.

[WRITING] Five #writing links: E-mail, online rhetoric, writing habit, Hannah Berry

  • JSTOR Daily examines the anthropology of the office E-mail.
  • VICE shares useful advice from a professor of rhetoric on how to engage in online discussions.
  • I agree entirely with the arguments of Darius Foroux on the benefits of a daily writing habit and how to establish one.
  • Patricia Wrede notes some circumstances, like erratic schedules, in which daily writing quotas might not work well.
  • Comics Beat reports on why award-winning British graphic novelist Hannah Berry has given up her craft: She just cannot support herself by it.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 18, 2019 at 10:00 pm

[WRITING] Five writing links: notebooks, SF-LOVERS, journalism, editors, our world

  • The Island Review took a look at the notebooks of four writers and one artist.
  • Slate looks at the history of SF-LOVERS, arguably the first online SF forum from the era of Arpanet.
  • This JSTOR Daily interview with Seymour Hersh on the future of American journalism was worth reading.
  • Patricia Wrede wrote some wise words about the problems with writers’ internal editors.
  • Tatty Hennessey wrote at Open Democracy about the importance of telling stories to help make sense of our world.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 15, 2019 at 8:30 pm

[MUSIC] Five music links: Nick Cave on AI, Lisbon, Yiddish, Cranberries, psychology

  • I am not quite sure I buy the argument of Nick Cave at Vice’s Motherboard that artificial intelligence will never be able to write a great song.
  • Roads and Kingdoms shares a soundtrack of Lisbon pop songs, in a variety of genres.
  • CBC reports on the remarkable recovery of a collection of Yiddish-language songs from the Second World War that led to a Grammy nomination.
  • Rolling Stone reports< on the work that went into the last, and final, album of the Cranberries following the untimely death last year of Dolores O'Riordan.
  • At Global News, Alan Cross writes about the psychological and even therapeutic effects of different sorts of music.

[NEWS] Five sci-fi links: Star Trek, Neuromancer and cyberspace, solarpunk, cyberpunk

  • Not too long ago, the Toronto Star noted that back in 1966 it had reported on the filming of “The Man Trap” , the first Star Trek episode to air. Its report is here.
  • This io9 report on how Alex Kurtzman talks about the tension between staying loyal to canon in Star Trek and doing something new provides insight.
  • This Mark Hill essay at Heterotopia Magazine looks at how the Commodore 64 version of Neuromancer reflects the cyberspace imagined very early in the history of the online world, all graphics and BBSs.
  • This Adam Boffa essay at Longreads takes a look at solarpunk, a new SF genre characterized by a hopeful post-apocalyptic environment imagining ecologically sound technologies and societies.
  • Lee Constantinou, writing at Slate, suggests that the continued survival of cyberpunk and children genres like solarpunk speaks of an exhaustion of the imagination of SF writers, in a lack of belief in change.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 10, 2019 at 10:51 am