A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘appalachia

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Larry Claes at Centauri Dreams considers the issues of the alien featuring in the title of the classic The Thing, facing human persecution.
  • John Quiggin at Crooked Timber starts a debate about past blogging and conventional wisdom.
  • The Crux reports on a mass rescue of orphaned flamingo chicks in South Africa.
  • D-Brief notes new evidence that asteroids provided perhaps half of the Earth’s current supply of water.
  • Cody Delistraty looks at how the far-right in Germany is appropriating artworks to support its view of history.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that China may be hoping to build a base at the Moon’s south pole by 2029.
  • Far Outliers reports on the 1865 collapse of the Confederacy.
  • Gizmodo reports on how astronomers have identified the approximate location of a kilonova that seeded the nascent solar system with heavy elements.
  • Joe. My. God. shares the news from yet another study demonstrating that HIV cannot be transmitted by HIV-undetectable people. U=U.
  • JSTOR Daily notes how, via Herb Caen, the Beat Generation became known as Beatniks.
  • Language Hat shares and comments upon a passage from Dostoevsky noting how an obscenity can be stretched out into an entire conversation.
  • Language Log considers a peculiarity of the Beijing dialect.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes how statehood has been used to game the American political system.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper suggesting that countries with greater levels of gender inequality are more likely to produce female chess grandmasters.
  • Justin Petrone at North!, considering the history of writers in Estonia, considers what the mission of the writer should be.
  • The NYR Daily examines the black people once miners in the Kentucky town of Lynch, remembering and sharing their experiences.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw considers what he has learned from a recent research and writing contract.
  • Jason C. Davis at the Planetary Society Blog reports in greater detail on the crater Hayabusa 2 made in asteroid Ryugu.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel explains how the Event Horizon Telescope acts like a mirror.
  • Strange Company shares an impressively diverse collection of links.
  • Towleroad talks with writer Tim Murphy about his new novel, Correspondents.
  • Window on Eurasia considers future directions for Ukrainian language policy.
  • Arnold Zwicky takes a look at the artistic riches horded by the Nazis in the Bavarian castle of Neuschwanstein.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • D-Brief notes that, with the Dawn probe unresponsive, its mission to Vesta and Ceres is now over.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports that NASA is seeking commercial partners to deliver cargo to the proposed Gateway station.
  • JSTOR Daily looks back to a time where chestnuts were a staple food in Appalachia.
  • Language Log takes a look at prehistoric words in Eurasia for honey, in Indo-European and Old Sinitic.
  • Joy Katz at the LRB Blog writes about her lived experience of the conventional Pittsburgh neighbourhood of Squirrel Hill, a perhaps unlikely scene of tragedy.
  • The Map Room Blog links to an interactive map showing the Québec election results.
  • Marginal Revolution links to that New York Magazine article about young people who do not vote to start a discussion.
  • Roads and Kingdoms looks at the real dangers faced by Venezuelan refugees in the northern Brazilian state of Roraima, at the start of the era of Bolsonaro.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that changes to the Russian census allowing people to identify with multiple ethnicities could lead to a sharp shrinking in the numbers of minority nationalities.

[NEWS] Five @jstor_daily links: Maria Mitchell, storytelling, Ruth Snyder, Appalachia, Alex Haley

  • JSTOR Daily describes the life and achievements of Maria Mitchell, who in the 1840s became the first prominent woman astronomer.
  • JSTOR Daily describes how storytelling can help people heal.
  • JSTOR Daily describes the Ruth Snyder murder case of the 1920s, the inspiration for the 1944 film Double Indemnity.
  • JSTOR Daily explores the origins and the nature of the English spoken in Appalachia.
  • JSTOR Daily examines how Alex Haley, with Roots, helped kick-start Americans’ interest in genealogy.

[NEWS] Five LGBTQ links: Jim Egan, Queer Appalachia, Latinx, Italian convent, Baron von Steuben

  • At the CLGA, Craig Jennex writes about the early activism of Canadian LGBT activist Jim Egan, writing letters to defend gay people in post-war homophobic times.
  • Them profiles the Queer Appalachia Instagram account and its creators.
  • Them reports on a survey suggesting that one-fifth of young Latinx people in the US identify as queer.
  • JSTOR Daily reports on a lesbian sex scandal at a Renaissance Italy convent.
  • The Nib shares a delightful, and historically accurate, cartoon describing how out German aristocrat Baron von Steuben played a critical role in the success of the Americans in their war of independence.

[NEWS] Four links on poverty and precarity: Brazil, Appalachia, United States, Mexico

  • In this searing examination of a newly-impoverished family’s life, Stephanie Nolen looks at how Brazil’s deep income inequality really hasn’t materially changed, over at The Globe and Mail.
  • At Quartz, Gwynn Guildford explains the political and economic forces that have kept Appalachia poor and coal-dependent for well over a century.
  • Noah Smith suggests at Bloomberg View that greater investment in infrastructure and dense construction, along with assisting people who need to move, could really save much of the United States from decline.
  • Bloomberg notes a new Mexican law that would weaken unions might be used by Trump to justify retaliation against NAFTA.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 22, 2018 at 8:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining a potential relationship between stars’ magnetic fields and exoplanets.
  • Hornet Stories links to the Instagram account of Tom Bianchi, still taking photos of Fire Island.
  • Language Hat notes the death of Ognen Cemerski, a Macedonian who went to heroic lengths to translate Moby Dick into his language.
  • Language Log notes an unusual hybrid Sino-Tibetan sign for a restaurant.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money is appropriately savage with Hillbilly Elegy (at least of uncritical readings of said).
  • Marginal Revolutions links to a paper noting French cities, unlike British ones, are much more tightly tied to old Roman settlements, away from the sea.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw calls for the return of the Australian $2 bill.
  • Roads and Kingdoms looks at the aftermath of rampant electoral fraud in Angola. What will come next?
  • Drew Rowsome takes a stand against, particularly in the context of Stephen King’s It, the now-common fear of clowns.
  • Understanding Society takes a look at Erik Olin Wright’s thinking on possible utopias.
  • Window on Eurasia notes potential contributions of Russophone Belarusians and Ukrainians to the Russophone world, and notes some controversy in Moscow re: widely-observed Muslim holidays at start of the school year.

[NEWS] Six links about changing world balances

  • The Atlantic notes the chance that China might manage to supplant the United States under Trump as a guarantor of the world order.
  • In an older article, The Atlantic noted Mexico’s potential to be a spoiler for the United States. Being less wealthy and powerful than the US is not the same as not being wealthy and powerful.
  • DW notes that there is the possibility of an entente between China and the EU, to sustain the multilateral order.
  • Spiegel Online notes that the Turkey of Erdogan these days is starting to fall out with its NATO partners.
  • Open Democracy argues the alienation of Europeans of Turkish background from liberal democracy has roots in Europe.
  • Also at Open Democracy, Nick Mullens argues that negatively stereotyping Appalachians leads only to their doubling-down on coal.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 2, 2017 at 10:00 pm

[NEWS] Some economics and demographics links

  • Al Jazeera and MacLean’s note that the deportation of migrants from Greece to Turkey, in keeping with the EU-Turkey deal, has begun.
  • Bloomberg notes the impending publication of data on foreign workers in the United Kingdom while observing that British companies are concerned about Brexit.
  • Bloomberg reports on the problematic Israeli housing market, the risk of a real estate bubble in Tokyo, notes Sri Lanka’s interest in getting universal WiFi, suggests Chinese coal exports could doom Appalachia, observes the collapse of Lithuania’s trade with Russia, notes new concerns about Nigeria, looks at Australian concern over Chinese investment despite increasing dependence on said, and expects the collapse of what’s left of the British steel industry.
  • Bloomberg View and the Toronto Star‘s David Olive look at the sad collapse of Brazil.
  • The Toronto Star notes the sale of Québec restaurant chain St-Hubert, and looks at the Facebook poster who helped make French’s ketchup a success.
  • The Chicago Tribune describes the potentially irretrievable state of the suburban Chicago housing market.

[LINK] “The Violent Remaking of Appalachia”

At The Atlantic, Jedediah Purdy notes how new, enormously destructive methods of coal mining in Appalachia literally threaten to devastate the natural environment for millions of years.

Central Appalachia’s history is the story of coal. At its peak in the mid-20th century, mining employed more than 150,000 people in West Virginia alone, mostly in the state’s otherwise poor and rugged counties. For decades, the United Mine Workers of America, a muscular, strike-prone union that allied itself with Franklin Roosevelt to support the New Deal, anchored the solidly Democratic highlands where West Virginia meets eastern Kentucky and Virginia’s western-most tip. In 1921, during the fight to unionize the region’s mines, ten thousand armed miners engaged strike-breakers and an anti-union militia in a five-day gun battle in which more than a hundred people were killed. The Army arrived by presidential order and dispersed the miners, dealing a decade-long setback to the UMWA.

Today, after decades of mechanization, there are only about twenty thousand coal miners in West Virginia, and another sixteen thousand between Kentucky and Virginia. The counties with the greatest coal production have some of the region’s highest unemployment rates, between 10 and 14 percent. An epidemiological study of the American opiate overdose epidemic found two epicenters where fatal drug abuse leapt more than a decade ago: one was rural New Mexico, the other coal country.

Although jobs have disappeared, Appalachia keeps producing coal. Since 1970, more than two billion tons of coal have come from the central Appalachian coalfields (A-B). West Virginians mined more in 2010 than in the early 1950s, when employment peaked at nearly six times its current level. Back then, almost all coal miners worked underground, emerging at the end of their shifts with the iconic head-lamps and black body-paint of coal dust. In the 1960s, mining companies began to bulldoze and dynamite hillsides to reach coal veins without digging. This form of strip-mining, called contour mining, caused more visible damage than traditional deep mining, leaving mountains permanently gouged and, sometimes, farmland destroyed.

Today, contour mining seems almost artisanal. Since the 1990s, half the region’s coal has come from “mountaintop removal,” a slightly too-clinical term for demolishing and redistributing mountains. Mining companies blast as much as several hundred feet of hilltop to expose layers of coal, which they then strip before blasting their way to the next layer. The giant cranes called draglines that move the blasted dirt and coal stand twenty stories high and can pick up 130 tons of rock in one shovel-load. The remaining rubble, called overburden, cannot be reassembled into mountains. Instead, miners deposit it in the surrounding valleys. The result is a massive leveling, both downward and upward, of the topography of the region. According to Appalachian Voices, an advocacy organization, mining has destroyed more than 500 mountains.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 21, 2016 at 4:56 pm

[LINK] “The Muslims of Appalachia: Kentucky coal country embracing the faithful”

Al Jazeera America’s Kevin Williams reports on the Muslims of Appalachia, a small but apparently well-accepted minority.

With its coal-caked hills, isolation and deep poverty, Southeastern Kentucky is probably not the first place that springs to mind when one considers the Muslim experience in America.

But nonetheless a small Muslim community has settled in the Appalachians, making a home forged in the ash-black-smudged margins. Friendships are made and communities are established, even as a wider debate rages around the prejudice of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims immigrating to the U.S.

Bilal Ahmed, 22, is from Elizabethtown, an affluent area near Louisville. But he decided to come to the University of Pikeville near the Virginia border to challenge himself and get out of his comfort zone. He described his freshman immersion in Pikeville as “brutal,” not because of anti-Muslim backlash, but just adjusting to college life.

In fact, after the first semester, Ahmed was so homesick that he filled out an application to transfer. But then exams intervened. Ahmed was taking Biology 151 and stressing over an upcoming exam, so he stepped out of his comfort zone and approached the kid behind him, asking him how he planned to prepare for the big test.

“We started studying in the library together and just hit it off and became best friends from that time on,” recalls Shey Spencer, 23. The two went on to become resident assistants, tutors in organic chemistry, and co-founded a campus chapter of National Society of Leadership and Success.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 25, 2016 at 5:38 pm