A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘environment

[NEWS] Five science links: Homo sapiens and Neanderthal art, squirrel smarts, tree talk, SN 2016gkg

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  • The suggestion that there is a relationship between the acoustics of particular caves and the art that early humans painted on those cave walls is fascinating. National Geographic reports.
  • The Neanderthals, archeologists working in Spain have determined, created art. The idea of a significant gap between their cognition and ours seems less and less likely. CBC reports.
  • It turns out that the grey squirrels of North America may be smarter than the red squirrels of Great Britain. This may explain much about the greys’ success in the reds’ homeland. National Geographic reports.
  • The idea of there being secret, easily overlooked, yet powerful communications networks connecting trees fascinates me. Vaster than empires and more slow, indeed. Quartz reports.
  • Back in 2016, through sheer luck and an excellent amateur model, Argentine amateur astronomer Victor Buso happened to catch supernova SN 2016gkg in NGC 613 from the very start of the visible explosion. Popular Science reports.
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[NEWS] Five notes about migration: Albania, Venezuela, Latvia, Namibia and East Germany, Yunnan

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  • This report from the Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso noting the sheer scale of emigration in parts of rural Albania, proceeding to the point of depopulating entire territories, tells a remarkable story.
  • This opinion suggesting that, due to the breakdown of the economy of Venezuela, we will soon see a refugee crisis rivaling Syria’s seems frighteningly plausible.
  • Politico Europe notes that, in the case of Latvia, where emigration has helped bring the country’s population down below two million, there are serious concerns.
  • OZY tells the unexpected story of hundreds of young Namibian children who, during apartheid, were raised in safety in Communist East Germany.
  • Many Chinese are fleeing the pollution of Beijing and other major cities for new lives in the cleaner environments in the southern province of Yunnan. The Guardian reports.

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Niagara Falls, Brantford, Regina, Tofino, Port Moody

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  • Why are the falls at Niagara Falls so famously compelling, even lethally seductive for some? Some human brains might be confused by the immensity. The National Post reports.
  • The extent of the flooding in Brantford, inland from Hamilton on the Grand River, is shocking. The Toronto Star reports.
  • The Saskatchewan capital city of Regina turns out to be the McDonald’s breakfast capital of Canada. Global News reports.
  • This essay in The Globe and Mail by Greg Blanchette looking at the rental housing crunch in the small Vancouver Island town of Tofino describes what’s frankly a terrifying situation.
  • If not for the fact that the CP Railway owned no property locally, the Vancouver suburb of Port Moody could well have become Canada’s biggest west coast metropolis. Global News reports.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait tells us what tantalizing little is known about Proxima Centauri and its worlds.
  • Centauri Dreams imagines that, for advanced civilizations based on energy-intensive computing, their most comfortable homes may be in the cool dark of space, intergalactic space even.
  • D-Brief notes an effort to predict the evolution of stick insects that went in interesting, if substantially wrong, directions.
  • Mark Graham notes that, in the developing world, the supply of people willing to perform digital work far outweighs the actual availability of jobs.
  • Mathew Ingram announces that he is now chief digital writer for the Columbia Journalism Review.
  • JSTOR Daily explores how consumerism was used, by the United States, to sell democracy to post-war West Germany.
  • Language Hat explores the script of the Naxi, a group in the Chinese Himalayas.
  • Paul Campos considers at Lawyers, Guns and Money the importance of JK Galbraith’s The Affluent Society. If we are richer than ever before and yet our living standards are disappointing, is this not the sort of political failure imagined?
  • Russell Darnley takes a look at how the death of a community’s language can lead to the death of that community’s ecosystem.
  • Jason Davis at the Planetary Society Blog considers the possibility of the ISS being replaced by privately-owned space stations.
  • Dmitry Ermakov at Roads and Kingdoms shares some photos from his ventures among the Finno-Ugric peoples of Russia.
  • Peter Rukavina shares a black-and-white photo of Charlottetown harbour covered in ice.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel makes the point that cancelling NASA’s WFIRST telescope would kneecap NASA science.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • Kambiz Kamrani at Anthropology.net notes that lidar scanning has revealed that the pre-Columbian city of Angamuco, in western Mexico, is much bigger than previously thought.
  • James Bow makes an excellent case for the revitalization of VIA Rail as a passenger service for longer-haul trips around Ontario.
  • D-Brief notes neurological evidence suggesting why people react so badly to perceived injustices.
  • The Dragon’s Tales takes a look at the list of countries embracing thorough roboticization.
  • Andrew LePage at Drew Ex Machina takes a look at the most powerful launch vehicles, both Soviet and American, to date.
  • Far Outliers considers Safavid Iran as an imperfect gunpowder empire.
  • Despite the explanation, I fail to see how LGBTQ people could benefit from a cryptocurrency all our own. What would be the point, especially in homophobic environments where spending it would involve outing ourselves? Hornet Stories shares the idea.
  • Imageo notes that sea ice off Alaska has actually begun contracting this winter, not started growing.
  • JSTOR Daily notes how the production and consumption of lace, and lace products, was highly politicized for the Victorians.
  • Language Hat makes a case for the importance of translation as a political act, bridging boundaries.
  • Language Log takes a look at the pronunciation and mispronunciation of city names, starting with PyeongChang.
  • This critical Erik Loomis obituary of Billy Graham, noting the preacher’s many faults, is what Graham deserves. From Lawyers, Guns and Money, here.
  • Bernard Porter at the LRB Blog is critical of the easy claims that Corbyn was a knowing agent of Communist Czechoslovakia.
  • The Map Room Blog shares this map from r/mapporn, imagining a United States organized into states as proportionally imbalanced in population as the provinces of Canada?
  • Marginal Revolution rightly fears a possible restart to the civil war in Congo.
  • Neuroskeptic reports on a controversial psychological study in Ghana that saw the investigation of “prayer camps”, where mentally ill are kept chain, as a form of treatment.
  • The NYR Daily makes the case that the Congolese should be allowed to enjoy some measure of peace from foreign interference, whether from the West or from African neighbous (Rwanda, particularly).
  • At the Planetary Society Blog, Emily Lakdawalla looks at the many things that can go wrong with sample return missions.
  • Rocky Planet notes that the eruption of Indonesian volcano Sinabung can be easily seen from space.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel notes how the New Horizons Pluto photos show a world marked by its subsurface oceans.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that, although fertility rates among non-Russians have generally fallen to the level of Russians, demographic momentum and Russian emigration drive continue demographic shifts.
  • Livio Di Matteo at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative charts the balance of federal versus provincial government expenditure in Canada, finding a notable shift towards the provinces in recent decades.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell makes the case, through the example of the fire standards that led to Grenfell Tower, that John Major was more radical than Margaret Thatcher in allowing core functions of the state to be privatized.
  • Arnold Zwicky takes a look at some alcoholic drinks with outrĂ© names.

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

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  • James Bow makes the case for inexpensive regional bus transit in southern Ontario, beyond and between the major cities.
  • D-Brief explains why Pluto’s Gate, a poisonous cave of classical Anatolia believed to be a portal to the netherworld, is the way it is.
  • The Dragon’s Tales takes a look at the plethora of initiatives for self-driving cars and the consequences of these for the world.
  • Far Outliers takes a look at how Persia, despite enormous devastation, managed to eventual thrive under the Mongols, even assimilating them.
  • JSTOR Daily notes the connections between North American nuclear tests and the rise of modern environmentalism.
  • Language Hat looks at Linda Watson, a woman on the Isle of Man who has became the hub of a global network of researchers devoted to deciphering unreadable handwriting.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money makes the argument that the Russian hacks were only as effective as they were because of terrible journalism in the United States.
  • The NYR Daily takes a look at an often-overlooked collaboration in the 1960s between New York poet Frank O’Hara and Italian artist Mario Schifano.
  • Towleroad takes a look at out gay pop music star Troye Sivan.
  • Window on Eurasia makes the believable contention that Putin believes in his propaganda, or at least acts as if he does, in Ukraine for instance.

[NEWS] Five links on life and intelligence both near and far: ‘Oumuamua, ET, blue whales, orangutans

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  • Craig Welch at National Geographic notes how scientists, by carefully decoding the songs of blue whales, are figuring out how they are leading their lives.
  • Sarah Gibbens at National Geographic notes a new study suggesting that, since 1999, hunting and environmental devastation has reduced the orangutan population of Borneo by almost half, by 150 thousand individuals. This sounds almost like genocide.
  • Universe Today notes evidence that ‘Oumuamua had a very violent past.
  • Nadia Drake at National Geographic explores the recent study suggesting that, unless there were signs of menace, most people actually would react well to news of extraterrestrial life.
  • Vikram Zutshi at Open Democracy recently suggested that contact with extraterrestrial intelligence could be good for the Earth, might even help us save it. Certainly this civilization would have survived the Great Filter; certainly it’s a corrective to lazy assumptions of automatic menace.