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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘blogging

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • The Boston Globe‘s Big Picture reports on Olympics evictions in Brazil, compares school life in Boston and Haiti, and follows an elderly man climbing Mount Washington.
  • blogTO suggests jets will not be coming to the Toronto Island airport and argues the city is unlikely to legalize Uber.
  • The Broadside Blog examines the staggering level of income inequality in the United States.
  • Centauri Dreams considers, in real-life and science fiction, the problems with maintaining artificial economies and notes the complexities of the Pluto system.
  • Crooked Timber notes the problems of organized labour and Labour in the United Kingdom.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes how atmospheric oxygen may not automatically point to the sign of life.
  • The Dragon’s Tales maps volcanic heat flow on Io and wonders if that world has a subsurface magna ocean
  • Far Outliers notes a popular thief in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan and looks at the politicization of the German military after the 1944 coup.
  • Geocurrents calls for recognizing the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan and Somaliland and looks at the geography of American poverty.
  • Language Log notes Sinified Japanese.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines the complexities of race and history in New Mexico.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that India unlike China cannot sustain global growth, approves of Snyder’s Black Earth, and notes poor economic outcomes for graduates of some American universities.
  • Otto Pohl is not optimistic about Ghana’s economic future.
  • The Planetary Society Blog evaluates the latest images from Mars.
  • pollotenchegg evaluates the 1931 Polish census in what is now western Ukraine.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at why Syrian refugees will not be resettled in South America and observes that Mexico has birthright citizenship.
  • Cheri Lucas Rowlands describes the negative relationship for her between blogging and writing.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog examines rising mortality in Ukraine and notes changing ethnic compositions of Tajikistan’s populations.
  • Savage Minds talks about the importance of teaching climate change in anthropology.
  • Transit Toronto notes Toronto now has nine new streetcars.
  • Whatever’s John Scalzi considers the situation of poor people who go to good schools.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the lack of Russian nationalism in the Donbas, observes the scale of the refugee problem in Ukraine, and looks at Russian alienation of Moldova.

[META] What blogs do you read?

What blogs do you read?

Let me know in the comments. I like coming across new things.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 29, 2015 at 3:54 am

Posted in Meta, Writing

Tagged with , , ,

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO notes that Toronto has been ranked as the most liveable city in the world by the Economist.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about the allure of learning something difficult.
  • Centauri Dreams describes circumbinary planet Kepler-453b.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to an attempt to date the Gliese 504 system, reports on a new definition for planets, and suggests that the abundances of biologically necessary material on planetary surfaces and atmospheres is quite variable.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the latest on the war in the Donbas.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas is trying to crowdfund the last four courses he needs for his doctoral degree.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that it has moved to www.joemygod.com.
  • Language Hat considers the third wave of Russian emigration to the United States.
  • Language Log displays a decorative Japanese dialogue written in romaji, Roman script.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes who Tea Partiers think should benefit from bankruptcy.
  • Marginal Revolution notes Singapore spends little on education as a proportion of its GDP, a consequence of its very low birth rate.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that Uber does work better than traditional taxis in the outer boroughs of New York City.
  • Strange Maps considers fire maps of old.
  • Torontoist looks at the story of Toronto’s first parks commissioner, John Chambers.
  • Towleroad quotes George Takei’s explanation why Star Trek did not feature gay characters and looks at a Swiss Catholic bishop facing jail time for inciting anti-gay violence.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers if the lessons of ancient Greek democracy are relevant for us post-moderns.
  • Window on Eurasia notes divisions on the Russian left over Crimea, suggests China is benefitting from Russia’s new dependence, notes that the United States did not recognize the Donbas in the Cold War, and quotes a Ukrainian writer who suggests that the Serb republics in the former Yugoslavia show the likely future of the Donbas states.

[WRITING] “The Web We Have to Save”

Earlier today, I linked to famous Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan‘s essay at Medium. Imprisoned in Iran for six years because of his blogging, to him the changes that hit the online world between 2008 and 2014 were all the more visible. Original content, exemplified by the hyperlink, no longer matters nearly as much.

Six years was a long time to be in jail, but it’s an entire era online. Writing on the internet itself had not changed, but reading — or, at least, getting things read — had altered dramatically. I’d been told how essential social networks had become while I’d been gone, and so I knew one thing: If I wanted to lure people to see my writing, I had to use social media now.

So I tried to post a link to one of my stories on Facebook. Turns out Facebook didn’t care much. It ended up looking like a boring classified ad. No description. No image. Nothing. It got three likes. Three! That was it.

It became clear to me, right there, that things had changed. I was not equipped to play on this new turf — all my investment and effort had burned up. I was devastated.

[. . .]

The hyperlink was my currency six years ago. Stemming from the idea of the hypertext, the hyperlink provided a diversity and decentralisation that the real world lacked. The hyperlink represented the open, interconnected spirit of the world wide web — a vision that started with its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee. The hyperlink was a way to abandon centralization — all the links, lines and hierarchies — and replace them with something more distributed, a system of nodes and networks.

Blogs gave form to that spirit of decentralization: They were windows into lives you’d rarely know much about; bridges that connected different lives to each other and thereby changed them. Blogs were cafes where people exchanged diverse ideas on any and every topic you could possibly be interested in. They were Tehran’s taxicabs writ large.

Since I got out of jail, though, I’ve realized how much the hyperlink has been devalued, almost made obsolete.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 3, 2015 at 10:57 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • James Bow reflects on Mulcair’s decision to ignore the debates boycotted by Harper, and examines the decline of the Bloc Québécois.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly reflects on the social forces pressuring people, especially women, to smile.
  • Centauri Dreams reflects n the pessimism over the potential of interstellar expansion in Kim Stanley Robinson’s new Aurora.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a study examining the links between concentrations of elements in stars and their exoplanets, shares art of HD 219134b, wonders about distributions of brown dwarfs in nearby interstellar space, wonders if a lithium-rich giant star known as HD 107028 swallowed its planets, and imagines compact exoplanets made of dark matter.
  • The Dragon’s Tales shares a study of the growth of the state of Tiahuanaco, and imagines what a durable Russian-American relationship could have been.
  • A Fistful of Euros looks at dodgy Greek statistics.
  • Joe. My. God. shares the new New Order single, “Restless.”
  • Language Hat celebrated its thirteen anniversary and looked at the ephemeral St. Petersburg English Review of the 19th century.
  • Language Log examines the origins of modern China’s standard language, and looks at the reasons why French texts are longer than English ones.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines settler violence in Israel.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at how charity, in an age of global income disparities, is inexpensive, and notes the economic issues of Cambodia.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reflects on Cilla Black.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at Ossetian demographics and examines the growth of Kazakhs in Kazakhstan after 1991.
  • Speed River Journal’s Van Waffle likes the Cosmonaut Volkov heirloom tomatoes.
  • Towleroad reports on a push for marriage equality on the Navajo reservation.
  • Understanding Society examines the concept of microfoundations.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how Russia’s war in Ukraine has been underachieving, argues Ukrainians should not count on change in Russia, reports on a Russian writer who wants the Donbas to be separated from Ukraine as a buffer, looks at ethnic Russian identity and propensity to emigrate in Kazakhstan, and looks at the identity of Belarusians in Siberia.

[FORUM] What do you think about ridiculously misused language?

Back in October of 2005, Livejournaler Heather Cooze posted in the Toronto Livejournal community a complaint about the steeped tea sold by Canada-founded chain Tim Horton’s. This post has since been revised, apparently in response to criticism the author received, but in the original version she said that the decision of Tim Horton’s to sell tea without including teabags–an option added, it should be noted, alongside their–was like rape. Also, it was something that the Nazis would have done.

The post got quite a lot of criticism. A petition that Cooze had started was taken down, as she complained people were taking her choice of language too seriously. A common opinion in the Toronto community, and in my Livejournal as well, was that the language she used was irresponsible. How, exactly, is selling steeped tea like rape? Why would it be something that the Nazis would do? The language used, evoking violence and even genocide, was ridiculously at odds with the actual subject matter. The people who said that a person who had only this to complain about was lucky were right.

I’ve been thinking of this misguided post more and more recently, as I’ve seen language get misused in similar ways in online forums and mainstream journalism and public life generally. Too often, words are used without regard to their actual meaning. “Colonialism” describes a specific set of circumstances, say, as does “fascism”, as does “racism”. Using terms like these as catch-all phrases to describe situations that a speaker does not like, without providing actual evidence for these terms’ real-world relevance, conveys only that the speaker does not like a situation. That’s it.

What do we lose through the misuse of the language? We lose an ability to actually understand what is going on. (Greece in 2015, for all of its travails, is going through nothing like Haiti’s experience of slavery-driven colonialism.) We certainly demonstrate our profound lack of understanding of the situation that has been mistaken to provide the incendiary analogy. (The sale of steeped tea is nothing like sexual assault.) Ultimately, we lose an ability to actually talk about things. How can we, if words with established meanings are taken to mean anything at all?

What do you think about this? Is there any way we can fight against this misuse? (Fighting against specific examples of misuse, perhaps?)


Written by Randy McDonald

July 19, 2015 at 3:56 am

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • James Bow, in the Kitchener-Waterloo area in southwestern Ontario, reports on what the recession looks like in his part of the world. So far things aren’t too bad.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a study on exoplanets looking for binary star companions.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas bids farewell to his blog for now.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw describes the competitive portrait scene in Australia.
  • pollotenchegg looks to the 1926 Soviet census to see what it has to say on ethnicity in Ukraine’s mixed Donbas region.
  • Torontoist looks at the city’s floating houseboats.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy analyzes to death the false allegations of a positive link between immigration and crime.
  • Window on Eurasia notes nationality policy in Russia’s regions.

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