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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘france

[PHOTO] Paris on my screen in Toronto

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Paris on my screen #toronto #paris #satelliteimage #googleearth #googlehome #television

Written by Randy McDonald

May 8, 2020 at 10:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] On the current #covid19 crisis (#coronavirustoronto)

One of the many things that has been bothering me about the COVID-19 crisis is the way that the city of Toronto around me has been shutting down. Work and those strictures have gone, of course, but so have almost all of the other events of life. Stores are shut down; neighbourhoods are almost always barren of people; the sorts of events that I normally partake in have been sensibly cancelled. (Jane’s Walk and TCAF are among the events that have been closed down, and I may never get a chance to see the Diane Arbus show at the AGO or the Winnie the Pooh exhibit at the ROM. I live in hope for the second category, and look forward to next year for the first.)

The great machineries of life of Toronto, human and mechanical, are grinding down. When will they start up again? What will be the background against which this revival will happen? What loss and suffering will there be in the background of this? More importantly, from my particular perspective, what loss and suffering will there be among the people I know, here in Toronto and around the world? I have some fears for myself, but more fears for others both known and unknown. (I am not fond of living in a situation where fatalities from a pandemic really can amount to low single-digit percentages of the global, and local, population.)

I cannot help but feel a sort of anticipatory grief at seeing my dear cosmopolis of Toronto shutting down. It is a cause of grief in itself, and it is a symbol of worse yet to come. I can also extrapolate easily enough from the specific case of Toronto to all the other great machines out there in the world, places I’ve lived in and places I’ve only visited and places I have yet to visit and the many many places I will never see. The pictures I saw earlier this week from Venice, that great first prototype of the cosmopolis, felt so wrong. One March, you have a living city; one March, you have a city clamped down on account of mass death. There are things Toronto can pick up from Venice, but I would prefer this not be one. But this isn’t really under anyone’s control, is it?

I am–I believe–keeping things in perspective. There will still be a world after this crisis is done, whenever it is done, one that will be recognizable. I just find it distressing that a proper perspective is not all that comforting. How, exactly, will things be skewed? This uncertainty is something that I do not like. Ending my 12-month Metropass, on account of the certainty that I will not be travelling much at all in April, at least, feels significant. How much more will my lived world shrink?

These past few days, I have been thinking of the classic song “Sous le ciel de Paris”, a hymn of love to that metropolis written and performed just a few years after Paris risked destruction in the Second World War. Has a similar song been written for Toronto?

Written by Randy McDonald

March 22, 2020 at 1:25 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Architectuul looks back at some highlights from 2019.
  • Bad Astronomy looks at the gas cloud, red and green, of RCW 120.
  • Crooked Timber looks at the dynamics of identity politics, here.
  • Bruce Dorminey notes a NASA statement about the importance of understanding dust dynamics in other solar systems to find Earth analogues.
  • Far Outliers looks at the problems pacifying the Chesapeake Bay area in 1813, here.
  • Gizmodo looks at the most popular Wikipedia articles for the year 2019.
  • io9 shares a video of images from a 1995 Akira cyberpunk computer game that never got finished.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at how the United States tried to “civilize” the Inupiat of Alaska by giving them reindeer herds.
  • Language Hat links to an online atlas of Scots dialects.
  • Language Log reports on a 12th century Sanskrit inscription that testifies to the presence of Muslims in Bengal at that point.
  • Marginal Revolution notes how much Tuvalu depends on revenue from its .tv Internet domain.
  • Drew Rowsome looks at the Duncan Ralston horror novel Salvage, set in small-town Canada.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the strong relationship between wealth and life expectancy in France.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel notes that, in a hypothetical supernova, all life on an Earth-like planet would be boiled alive by neutrinos.
  • Strange Maps links to a graphic interface that translates a word into all the languages of Europe.
  • Understanding Society looks at the structures of high-reliability organizations.
  • Window on Eurasia shares a suggestion that Homer Simpson is actually the US’ version of Russia’s Ivan the Fool.

[NEWS] Fourteen links

  • By at least one metric, New Brunswick now lags economically behind a more dynamic Prince Edward Island. CBC reports.
  • NOW Toronto looks at toxic fandoms. (“Stanning” sounds really creepy to me.)
  • This CityLab article looks at how the particular characteristics of Japan, including its high population density, helps keep alive there retail chains that have failed in the US.
  • MacLean’s looks at Kent Monkman, enjoying a new level of success with his diptych Mistikôsiwak at the Met in NYC.
  • Can there be something that can be said for the idea of an Internet more strongly pillarized? Wired argues.
  • I reject utterly the idea of meaningful similarities between Drake and Leonard Cohen. CBC did it.
  • Toronto Life looks at the life of a Hamilton woman hurt badly by the cancellation of the basic income pilot, here.
  • Inspired by the death of Gord Downie, Ontario now has the office of poet-laureate. CBC reports.
  • Is Canada at risk, like Ireland, of experiencing two-tier health care? CBC considers.
  • A French immigrant couple has brought the art of artisanal vinegar to ile d’Orléans. CBC reports.
  • Shore erosion is complicating the lives of people along Lake Erie. CBC reports.
  • MacLean’s notes how Via Rail making it difficult for people without credit cards to buy anything on their trains, hurting many.
  • Michelle Legro notes at Gen that the 2010s is the decade where conspiracy culture became mainstream.
  • This essay by Robert Greene at his blog talking about what history, and historians, can do in our era is thought-provoking.

[BLOG] Five LRB Blog links (#lrbblog)

  • Daniel Trilling at the LRB Blog writes about a visit to the House of European History museum in Brussels.
  • The LRB Blog explores Australia at a time of fire, here.
  • What is going on, the LRB Blog considers, in Algeria?
  • Giving birth in France at a time of mass strikes, the LRB Blog suggests, is certainly an interesting experience.
  • James Butler writes at the LRB Blog about what Labour has to do after its stunning electoral defeat.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 22, 2019 at 5:00 pm

[BLOG] Five Marginal Revolution links

  • Marginal Revolution considers if the CFA franc system is dying out, here.
  • Marginal Revolution shares a link to a paper quantifying the effects of the old boys club, here.
  • Marginal Revolution contrasts and compares the old NAFTA and the new USMCA, here.
  • Marginal Revolution notes how Germany has access to nuclear weapons, here.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at the high rate of consainguineous marriage in Saudi Arabia, here.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Architectuul looks at the winners of an architecture prize based in Piran, here.
  • Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait notes the wind emitted from one distant galaxy’s supermassive black hole is intense enough to trigger star formation in other galaxies.
  • Maria Farrell at Crooked Timber pays tribute to Jack Merritt, a young victim of the London Bridge attack who was committed to the cause of prisoner rehabilitation.
  • Dangerous Minds looks at the history of French pop group Les Rita Mitsouko.
  • Bruce Dorminey reports on the European Space Agency’s belief Earth-observing spacecraft are needed to track ocean acidification.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on the consensus of the Russian scientific community against human genetic engineering.
  • Far Outliers reports on the first ambassador sent from the Barbary States to the United States.
  • JSTOR Daily reports on the life of pioneering anthropologist Franz Boas.
  • Language Log shares images of a bottle of Tibetan water, bought in Hong Kong, labeled in Tibetan script.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money rightly assigns responsibility for the terrible measles outbreak in Samoa to anti-vaxxers.
  • The LRB Blog notes how tree planting is not apolitical, might even not be a good thing to do sometimes.
  • Marginal Revolution reports on a paper suggesting that food tends to be better in restaurants located on streets in Manhattan, better than in restaurants located on avenues.
  • Justin Petrone at north! shares an account of a trip across Estonia.
  • The NYR Daily looks at the photography of Michael Jang.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw continues to report from Armidale, in Australia, shrouded in smoke from wildfires.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the early days of the Planetary Society, four decades ago.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at how centenarians in Sweden and in Denmark experience different trends in longevity.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel reports on the accidental discovery of the microwave background left by the Big Bang in 1964.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little looks at the increasingly poor treatment of workers by employers such as Amazon through the lens of primitive accumulation.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at the small differences separating the Kazakhs from the Kyrgyz.
  • Arnold Zwicky shares a dance routine, shown on television in France, against homophobia.