A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘arctic

[NEWS] Five sci-tech links: ponds, Arctic kelp, black holes, starbursts, inverted world

  • The Conversation notes that ponds on farmers’ fields in the Prairies can serve as useful carbon sinks.
  • Karen Filbee-Dexter at The Conversation notes that, with climate change, kelp forests in the Arctic Ocean are on the verge of great expansion.
  • Evan Gough at Universe Today notes that including a space telescope or two would make images of black holes that much sharper.
  • Phys.org notes a new study suggesting that there was a major burst of massive star formation in our galaxy three billion years ago.
  • Reddit’s mapporn shares a map imagining what climate would look like on a world where land took the place of sea and vice versa.

[NEWS] Five Indigenous links: Cree, Attikamekw, roots workers, climate, Niviaq Korneliussen

  • With new translation facilities in place, MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette has delivered the first speech translated from the Cree delivered in the House of Commons. Global News reports.
  • La Presse looks at the newly-lodged land claim of the Attikamekw to much of the Haute-Mauricie region.
  • Brielle Morgan at The Discourse looks at the necessary, but neglected, role of “roots workers” in keeping indigenous children in care in British Columbia connected with their cultures.
  • Tanya Talaga at the Toronto Star looks at the serious impact of climate change on many Indigenous communities, starting with the High Arctic.
  • The New Yorker takes a look at the literary success of queer Greenlandic writer Niviaq Korneliussen.

[NEWS] Five language links: Inuktitut, Icelandic, Ladino, Spanish, isiXhosa

  • I entirely agree with the argument of Aluki Kotierk, writing at MacLean’s, who thinks the Inuit of Nunavut have been entirely too passive, too nice, in letting Inuktitut get marginalized. Making it a central feature in education is the least that can be done. (Québec-style language policies work.)
  • Although ostensibly a thriving language in many domains of life, the marginalization of the Icelandic language in the online world could be an existential threat. The Guardian reports.
  • As part of a bid to keep alive Ladino, traditional language of the Sephardic Jews, Spain has extended to the language official status including support and funding. Ha’aretz reports.
  • A new set of policies of Spain aiming at promoting the Spanish language have been criticized by some in Hispanic American states, who call the Spanish moves excessively unilateral. El Pais reports.
  • isiXhosa, the language of the Xhosa people of South Africa, is getting huge international attention thanks to its inclusion in Black Panther. The Toronto Star reports.

[NEWS] Five links in Canada, from NAFTA corn syrup to Amazon Prime in Iqaluit and abortion

  • Could NAFTA, as one article suggests, have contributed to obesity in Canada by boosting consumption of high-fructose corn syrup?
  • VICE reports on a new Canadian federal program to extend high-speed Internet throughout rural Canada.
  • CBC notes the scary extent to which Iqaluit depends on Amazon Prime to afford even basic things, including food.
  • VICE notes the overrepresentation of indigenous children in the child welfare system in Canada.
  • VICE tells the story of a Maritime women who helps Maritimers navigate the health care system to get abortions.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO looks at a condo of 22 Wellesley Street East.
  • Centauri Dreams considers if Enceladus may have been recently shaped by a massive asteroid impact.
  • Dangerous Minds shares photos from a Florida alligator farm where children could ride the reptiles.
  • D-Brief reports on the craters left by methane blowouts on the bottom of the Barents Sea.
  • Language Hat notes the apparently declining diversity of English dialects in England.
  • Marginal Revolution shares a nice passage arguing that reading is a cumulative progress, the reader progressing the more they read.
  • Spacing Toronto shares John Lorinc’s thoughts on the politics of the minimum wage.
  • Torontoist notes that the Lower Don Trail is nearing completion.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO profiles classic Toronto convenience store chain Becker’s.
  • Crooked Timber links to their index of posts on their recent symposium on the ethics of immigration.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that a simulation of the Gliese 581 system (assuming four planets) shows it’s stable over long periods.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper suggesting that the distribution of trans-Neptunian objects indicates the existence of two large distant planets.
  • Eastern Approaches notes the recent revolution in Abkhazia.
  • Geocurrents’ Martin Lewis notes that there is scarce evidence of environmental issues triggering Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria.
  • Language Hat hosts a discussion on Elias Muhanna’s essay on the translation of Frozen.
  • Language Log’s Victor Mair lists the long collection of words censored in China on the grounds of their relationship to Tiananmen Square.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a recent study suggesting rapidly declining fortunes among young Americans after 2000.
  • Savage Minds engages with the potentially colonial concept of the Arctic.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia is drawing multiple connections between Ukraine and Syria, and notes the huge contribution of Ukrainians to the defeat of the Nazis in the Second World War.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Bag News Notes comments on one of the iconic photos of the Boston Marathon bombing aftermath, of an elderly man on the ground in front of three cops. It turns out that the man, a jogger, ended up coming second in his age class.
  • Burgh Diaspora’s Jim Russell notes that migration and economic development are quite compatible, even emigration–migrating professionals often return to their community of birth, bringing skills and connections acquired abroad with them.
  • Centauri Dreams’ Paul Gilster notes the few surveys of the nearby universe for Dyson spheres, vast artifacts of extraterrestrial civilizations. Nothing has been found so far!
  • Bostonian Daniel Drezner posts about the necessity of reacting to the Boston Marathon bombings calmly and rationally.
  • Joe. My. God. picks up on a Paraguayan presidential candidates vitriolic condemnation of same-sex marriage and non-heterosexuals, and on the response to said.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money observes that left-wing terrorism in the United States is pretty marginal, certainly more so than right-wing terrorism.
  • The New APPS Blog notes that a great way to ensure the full development of young children is to talk to them.
  • Normblog’s Norman Geras is quite unimpressed with an article expressing opposition to same-sex marriage (here, in New Zealand) that amounts to “just because.”
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer lists the numerous severe economic problems facing post-Chavez Venezuela. Perhaps, for the sake of multi-party democracy in that country, the defeat of Capriles by Chavez’s successor Maduro is for the best.
  • Towleroad notes the success of same-sex marriage in New Zealand.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s Sasha Volokh is very unimpressed with the content of Russian school history textbooks, propagandizing on behalf of empire and minimizing state atrocities as they do.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that wealthy China is starting to take an interest in the Arctic, perhaps at the expense of Russia.

[BRIEF NOTE] On the possible adoption of the Canadian dollar by Iceland

Barrie McKenna’s Globe and Mail article discussing what seems to be growing discussion in Iceland about replacing the Icelandic króna with the Canadian dollar has gone viral across my Facebook feed.

For many Canadians who read this, learning that any country–even one as small as Iceland–wants to unite in some fashion with Canada on grounds of our economic strength is a massive ego boost. McKenna does highlight the importance that the extension of Canadian money elsewhere in the Arctic might have on Canadian heft, at least the perceived importance. As far as I can tell, the Icelanders are still debating the question (to put it mildly), while very few people in Canada have been thinking about Iceland at all since the stabilization of the economy.

One note: Adoption of the Canadian dollar would also Iceland’s emergent relationship with the European Union. How would it work for a European Union member-state that adopted the currency of a non-member, indeed, the currency of a non-European country? (I’ve joked in the past that maybe Canada should join the European Union since someone has to pay for Romania, but seeing what’s going on with Greece takes the fun out of that joke.) ?

[T]iny Iceland, still reeling from the aftershocks of the devastating collapse of its banks in 2008, is looking longingly to the loonie as the salvation from wild economic gyrations and suffocating capital controls.

And for the first time, the Canadian government says it’s open to discussing the idea.

In brief remarks to be delivered Saturday in Reykjavik, Canadian ambassador Alan Bones will tell Icelanders that if they truly want the Canadian dollar, Canada is ready to talk.

But he will warn Icelanders that unilaterally adopting the loonie comes with significant risk, including complete loss of control over their monetary policy because the Bank of Canada makes decisions only for Canadians and the Canadian economy. He’ll caution, for example, that giving up the krona in favour of the Canadian dollar (CAD/USD-I1.01-0.004-0.36%) will leave the country with few levers, short of layoffs, to counter financial shocks and fluctuations in the loonie.

[. . .]

There’s a compelling economic case why Iceland would want to adopt the Canadian dollar. It offers the tantalizing prospect of a stable, liquid currency that roughly tracks global commodity prices, nicely matching Iceland’s own economy, which is dependent on fish and aluminum exports.

There’s also a more sentimental reason.

“The average person looks at it this way: Canada is a younger version of the U.S. Canada has more natural resources than the U.S., it’s less developed, has more land, lots of water,” explained Heidar Gudjonsson, an economist and chairman of the Research Center for Social and Economic Studies, Iceland’s largest think tank.

“And Canada thinks about the Arctic.”

In a recent Gallup poll, seven out of 10 Icelanders said they would happily dump their volatile and fragile krona for another currency. And their favoured alternative is the Canadian dollar, easily outscoring the U.S. dollar, the euro and the Norwegian krona.

Iceland is also in a bind. The country imposed strict currency controls after its spectacular banking collapse in 2008. Foreign-exchange transactions are capped 350,000 kronas (about $3,000). A major downside of those controls is that foreign investors can’t repatriate their profits, making Iceland an unattractive place to do business.

Those capital controls are slated to come off next year. And many experts fear a return to the wild swings of the past — in inflation, lending rates and the currency itself. Iceland is the smallest country in the world still clinging to its own currency and monetary policy. The krona soared nearly 90 per cent between 2001 and 2007, only to crash 92 per cent after the financial crisis in 2008.

The official government plan is to go to the euro. Iceland has applied to join the European Union and eventually the euro zone. But that’s not looking like a very attractive option these days. And formal entry could take a decade, experts said.

The other options are to peg the krona to another currency, such as the yen, greenback or euro.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 2, 2012 at 9:49 pm

[BRIEF NOTE] On the possible adoption of the Canadian dollar by Iceland

Barrie McKenna’s Globe and Mail article discussing what seems to be growing discussion in Iceland about replacing the Icelandic króna with the Canadian dollar has gone viral across my Facebook feed.

For many Canadians who read this, learning that any country–even one as small as Iceland–wants to unite in some fashion with Canada on grounds of our economic strength is a massive ego boost. McKenna does highlight the importance that the extension of Canadian money elsewhere in the Arctic might have on Canadian heft, at least the perceived importance. As far as I can tell, the Icelanders are still debating the question (to put it mildly), while very few people in Canada have been thinking about Iceland at all since the stabilization of the economy.

One note: Adoption of the Canadian dollar would also complicate Iceland’s emergent relationship with the European Union. How would it work for a European Union member-state that adopted the currency of a non-member, indeed, the currency of a non-European country? (I’ve joked in the past that maybe Canada should join the European Union since someone has to pay for Romania, but seeing what’s going on with Greece takes the fun out of that joke.) nwhyte?

[T]iny Iceland, still reeling from the aftershocks of the devastating collapse of its banks in 2008, is looking longingly to the loonie as the salvation from wild economic gyrations and suffocating capital controls.

And for the first time, the Canadian government says it’s open to discussing the idea.

In brief remarks to be delivered Saturday in Reykjavik, Canadian ambassador Alan Bones will tell Icelanders that if they truly want the Canadian dollar, Canada is ready to talk.

But he will warn Icelanders that unilaterally adopting the loonie comes with significant risk, including complete loss of control over their monetary policy because the Bank of Canada makes decisions only for Canadians and the Canadian economy. He’ll caution, for example, that giving up the krona in favour of the Canadian dollar (CAD/USD-I1.01-0.004-0.36%) will leave the country with few levers, short of layoffs, to counter financial shocks and fluctuations in the loonie.

[. . .]

There’s a compelling economic case why Iceland would want to adopt the Canadian dollar. It offers the tantalizing prospect of a stable, liquid currency that roughly tracks global commodity prices, nicely matching Iceland’s own economy, which is dependent on fish and aluminum exports.

There’s also a more sentimental reason.

“The average person looks at it this way: Canada is a younger version of the U.S. Canada has more natural resources than the U.S., it’s less developed, has more land, lots of water,” explained Heidar Gudjonsson, an economist and chairman of the Research Center for Social and Economic Studies, Iceland’s largest think tank.

“And Canada thinks about the Arctic.”

In a recent Gallup poll, seven out of 10 Icelanders said they would happily dump their volatile and fragile krona for another currency. And their favoured alternative is the Canadian dollar, easily outscoring the U.S. dollar, the euro and the Norwegian krona.

Iceland is also in a bind. The country imposed strict currency controls after its spectacular banking collapse in 2008. Foreign-exchange transactions are capped 350,000 kronas (about $3,000). A major downside of those controls is that foreign investors can’t repatriate their profits, making Iceland an unattractive place to do business.

Those capital controls are slated to come off next year. And many experts fear a return to the wild swings of the past — in inflation, lending rates and the currency itself. Iceland is the smallest country in the world still clinging to its own currency and monetary policy. The krona soared nearly 90 per cent between 2001 and 2007, only to crash 92 per cent after the financial crisis in 2008.

The official government plan is to go to the euro. Iceland has applied to join the European Union and eventually the euro zone. But that’s not looking like a very attractive option these days. And formal entry could take a decade, experts said.

The other options are to peg the krona to another currency, such as the yen, greenback or euro.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 2, 2012 at 4:49 pm

[LINK] “The Oddities and Anomalies of Svalbard”

This Geocurrents post outlines the interesting situation of the peculiar Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Briefly, the islands can be described as almost Norwegian.

Svalbard, about the size of Sri Lanka or Tasmania, is [. . .] notable for its geopolitical anomalies. The coal-rich archipelago came to Norway through the Svalbard Treaty of 1920. The treaty, signed* by the United States, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, ostensibly granted Norway “full and absolute sovereignty” over the entire landmass. Svalbard, the Wikipedia stresses, is not a dependency of Norway, but is fully part of the kingdom. In actuality, the situation is more complicated. Norway’s sovereignty over Svalbard is limited and the islands remain legally distinct from the mainland. Norwegian tax laws, for example, do not apply to Svalbard, and immigration rules compromise Norwegian dominion. The 1920 treaty stipulates that residents of all countries are entitled to residency in Svalbard and are granted the right to establish commercial enterprises. In terms of residency potential, the archipelago is something of a global commons.

Several foreign communities have taken advantage of Svalbard’s open borders. The islands have long supported a significant Russian population. A Russian state-owned coal company maintains Svalbard’s second largest settlement, Barentsburg, population 500 or so. Coal mining is no longer very profitable, however, and thus requires heavy subsidies from Moscow. Oddly, Thais form the second largest foreign group. In the 1970s, evidently, a number of local miners took a tropical vacation, several returning with Thai wives. Other citizens of Thailand followed, attracted by Svalbard’s relatively high wages. According to a recent story, the local supermarket “now has an ‘Asian corner’ with rice, chilies, soy and fish sauce and other Thai condiments.”

Despite its open-door policy, Svalbard does not present an easy migration option. Bitter winter cold and months of darkness, as well as an average July high temperature of 45 degrees F (7 degrees C), deter would-be immigrants. So too does official policy; welfare is not provided, and anyone without a job and a place to stay can be summarily deported. Svalbard also lacks local democracy. The governor of the archipelago, who also acts as police chief, is appointed by Oslo. Building regulations are extremely strict, and most land is devoted to nature reserves. Other oddities abound, as summarized on a libertarian website whose enthusiasts were eyeing Svalbard as a potential “European Freestate.” According to commentator Joffeloff, “outside the settlements it’s illegal to not carry a gun; inside the settlements you had better get it away quickly because then you are suddenly an unaccountable madman, guilty until proven innocent just like on the mainland.” (Guns are to be carried outside of the settlements for protection against bears.)

Written by Randy McDonald

December 27, 2010 at 5:22 pm

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