A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘elections

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO looks at eleven recent Toronto-themed books, from fiction to children’s literature.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the idea of using waste heat to detect extraterrestrial civilizations.
  • Far Outliers reports on how German East Africa substituted for foreign imports during the blockade of the First World War.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests that the fall of Rome may have been due to the failure to reconquer North Africa.
  • The NYRB Daily looks at the exuberant art of Jazz Age Florence Stettheimer.
  • The Planetary Society Blog shares a stunning portrait of Jupiter from the New Horizons probe.
  • Window on Eurasia considers the idea of containment in the post-Cold War world.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell looks at the British election.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • blogTO reports on the history of Toronto’s Wellington Street.
  • Dangerous Minds introduces me to the grim American gothic that is Wisconsin Death Trip. What happened to Black River Falls in the 1890s?
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to hypotheses about KIC 8462852, one suggesting KIC 8462852 has four exoplanets, another talking about a planet’s disintegration.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper modeling the mantles of icy moons.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at small city NIMBYism in the Oregon city of Eugene.
  • The LRB Blog reports on toxically racist misogyny directed towards Labour’s Diane Abbott by Tory minister David Davis, “misogynoir” as it is called.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reports on the elections in Indonesia, a country increasingly important to Australia.
  • Peter Rukavina describes how the builders of his various indie phones, promising in their own rights, keep dropping them.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer is optimistic that NAFTA will survive mostly as is.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy examines the ruling against Trump’s immigration order on the grounds that its planners explicitly designed it as an anti-Muslim ban.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the treaty-based federalism of Tatarstan within Russia is increasingly unpopular with many wanting a more centralized country.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Bad Astronomy shares a video imagining of how Cassini will meet its end with Saturn.
  • Cody Delistraty shares an interview with Rebecca Solnit.
  • Far Outliers reports on Margaret Thatcher’s unorthodox campaign in 1979.
  • Joe. My. God. shares Hillary Clinton’s thanks to her 66 million voters.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at gender stereotypes among scientists.
  • The NYRB Daily talks about the visual art of Pipilotti Rist.
  • Otto Pohl commemorates the 73rd anniversary of the deportation of the Kalmyks.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests China might follow Russia’s Crimea strategy in invading Taiwan, and looks at the latest on controversies about Tatar identity and genetics.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO notes that after the Berlin attack, the Toronto Christmas Market has upped its security.
  • D-Brief looks at how roads divide ecosystems.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that WD 1536+520 apparently has solar levels of rock-forming elements.
  • Language Log examines central European metaphors for indecipherable languages.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money is diffident on the question of whether Sanders could have won versus Trump.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at the recent depreciation of Canada’s natural resources.
  • The Planetary Society Blog talks about a recent essay collection noting the strides made in planetary science over the past quarter-century.
  • Cheri Lucas Rowlands shares photos from her trip to Hawai’i.
  • Seriously Science notes Santa’s risk of personal injury.
  • Torontoist looks at a University of Toronto professor’s challenges to a law on gender identity.
  • Whatever’s John Scalzi likes what Disney has done, and is doing, to Star Wars.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russians might want fascissm but lack a leader and argues Western defeatism versus Russia is as ill-judged now as it was in 1979.

[LINK] “Putin Will Find Germany’s Elections Hard to Subvert”

Bloomberg View’s Leonid Bershidsky argues that, owing to the greater resilience of German politics and a more honest media environment among other things, any Russian involvement in Germany’s elections would have more limited results. Here’s hoping.

Merkel’s Achilles heel in this election is the refugee crisis of 2015. I doubt, however, that much unpublished kompromat exists on that: Merkel’s mistakes in handling the crisis were extensively covered by the German press. And unlike Americans, whose trust in the media is at a historic low, Germans still trust traditional media.

There’s a notable difference between the ways relatively conservative Germans and tech-crazy Americans get their news. Only 20 percent of Americans find it in newspapers; 57 percent of Germans still read a newspaper or a magazine every day. That means the effectiveness of fake news campaigns and social network echo chambers won’t be as high in Germany as it was in the U.S.

Besides, Germans are far more amenable to speech restrictions than Americans. Germany has hate speech laws that would be impossible under the First Amendment. Calls to outlaw fake news or prosecute those who spread it are coming from many quarters, especially from Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union, and the other centrist political force — its coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party. Unlike in the U.S., the government in Germany has the ability to go after those who knowingly publish disinformation. A Russian TV journalist who reported on the fake rape earlier this year was briefly under investigation, though he wasn’t convicted.

On Tuesday, the leader of the Social Democrats, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, posted a photo of a handwritten message on Twitter: “A fair fight! That’s how we must fight the 2017 election — not like in the U.S.! No fake news, no bashing, no insults.” Gabriel wrote “fake news” and “bashing” in English. Germany doesn’t even have the kind of echo chambers of anti-establishment opinion that amplified the anti-Clinton line in the U.S., where a propaganda effort could just use the existing channel that gorged on the additional content. In Germany, the channel itself would need to be built.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 14, 2016 at 7:15 pm

[LINK] ‘Russia’s American coup”

Scott Gilmore in MacLean’s describes how Americans are starting to respond to confirmation of Russian interference in the recent presidential elections.

Some of the most important moments in history happen fast, like a flash of lightning. A tank crosses a border or a prince is assassinated and everyone knows the world has changed, even before the sound of thunder rolls over them.

Other epochal shifts are more subtle and incremental. In 18th-century England, very few people would have known what a Spinning Jenny was, and fewer still would recognize what the automation of weaving meant for the world.

For the last two years we have been living through one of those less obvious historic transformations. It didn’t happen all at once, it’s still not over, and even now we can’t say how deep or far it will go. But it happened, moment by moment, until we woke up in a cold day in December and realized that Moscow had effectively installed the next president of the United States.

That sounds hyperbolic, doesn’t it? Even writing it I have to pause and stare at that sentence. But these are the facts: The CIA and over a dozen other U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded Russia hacked into both the Republican and Democratic party computers. Senior Russian officials have admitted that they leaked the Democratic data to WikiLeaks. Those emails were then strategically published over the course of the presidential campaign. Why? A member of the House Intelligence Committee states there is “overwhelming evidence” Russia’s goal was to elect Donald Trump.

The result of Putin’s intervention in the American election cannot be downplayed. If Hillary Clinton had garnered just 107,000 more votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, this would have given her the Electoral College and the White House. According to pollster Nate Silver, the Russian intervention contributed to eroding up to three per cent of the swing-state vote from Clinton. That small margin was all it took to decide the election.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 14, 2016 at 7:00 pm

[LINK] “Class divergences and the Astor Place election”

At Open Democracy, John A. Gronbeck-Tedesco writes compellingly about the long history of the place of socioeconomic class in American politics.

While touring the United States in 1849, English Shakespearean William Charles Macready suffered a string of attacks. Known for his title role in Macbeth, Macready received considerable support from cultural luminaries, among them Herman Melville and Washington Irving, urging him to continue undeterred by the nightly ne’er-do-wells. Scheduled to perform at the posh Astor Place Opera House on the night of May 10, Macready was interrupted by a crowd led by Bowery ruffians and encouraged by Tammany Hall notables. Thousands of working-class New Yorkers rose up against the paragon of foreign refinery, preferring instead the American Shakespearean Edwin Forrest, a longstanding rival of Macready’s who was also playing Macbeth at the Broadway Theater. The feud had ballooned into something nationalistic and rooted in class sensibilities around the politics of artistic tastes and public spaces. Forrest’s Five Points supporters wanted an American at the top of the playbill rather than an Englishman. This night was particularly violent, with protesters overrunning the streets. The National Guard intervened and by the night’s end at least 22 people were killed and dozens more injured.

Just as the Astor Place riot is emblematic of class divergences taking place in Jacksonian Democracy, so too will the 2016 election be seen as a referendum on neoliberalism and the class politics of American whiteness. In Forrest and Macready’s day, the upper echelons of New York society were leery of the European revolutions of 1848, and while Astor Place was a local matter, it was also symptomatic of broader changes taking place nationally on the issue of class. Astor Place proved that class was something much more than wealth. Tastes, values, aesthetics, and language were cultural variables that also comprised one’s social standing. This was evident in the changing theater decorum of the day. For a long time, working-class audience members had been able to make their presence known in the stage pit, where they could interact with the actors on stage by voicing their opinions in raucous ways. But Astor Place was built with privilege in mind, following new protocols and conventions in arts appreciation. Those who previously could attend performances and participate in the collective banter would no longer be able to do so at Astor Place, which adopted a dress code (men had to wear white gloves) and higher ticket prices.

Today we stand witness to new class divisions that are holding tight to cultural attachments ensconced in whiteness and heterosexual masculinity. But often the class portions of these dynamics remain invisible. America’s minimization of class struggle entered a new phase after World War II, when the ideal American now belonged to a middle class that was to be a tireless purchaser of consumer goods. Since the 1950s, America’s culture of abundance has relied on the notion that most Americans are part of, or have access to, the middle class. Year after year, polls have confirmed that most Americans have identified with some form of middle class (including upper- and lower-middle classes). In doing so, Americans have been able to cling to the myth of classlessness. If we’re all some part of the middle, we’re all the same.

Just as the Astor Place riot is emblematic of class divergences taking place in Jacksonian Democracy, so too will the 2016 election be seen as a referendum on neoliberalism and the class politics of American whiteness

In six decades of civil rights movements, Americans by and large have not confronted inequality along class lines as vigorously as they have along race, gender, and even more recently sexuality. Class is still allowed to structure inequality in ways race and gender are not. It is why in New York City there can be differential treatment of tenants based on the rent they pay in mixed-income or rent-stabilized dwellings. In some buildings, tenants who do not pay market-rate rents must enter through different doors or are prevented from some building amenities like courtyards or gyms. If these same buildings were to make African Americans or Jews use a different entrance or prohibit women from using a gym, Americans far and wide would cry foul. Such classism has spread across America’s stratified income landscape.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 12, 2016 at 8:45 pm