A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘friends

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes that mysterious Boyajian’s Star has nearly two dozen identified analogues, like HD 139139.
  • James Bow reports from his con trip to Portland.
  • Caitlin Kelly at the Broadside Blog notes the particular pleasure of having old friends, people with long baselines on us.
  • Centauri Dreams describes a proposed mission to interstellar comet C/2019 Q4 (Borisov).
  • The Crux notes how feeding cows seaweed could sharply reduce their methane production.
  • D-Brief notes that comet C/2019 Q4 is decidedly red.
  • Bruce Dorminey notes a claim that water-rich exoplanet K2-18b might well have more water than Earth.
  • Gizmodo reports on a claim that Loki, biggest volcano on Io, is set to explode in a massive eruption.
  • io9 notes that Warner Brothers is planning a Funko Pop movie.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the claim of Donald Trump that he is ready for war with Iran.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at how people in early modern Europe thought they could treat wounds with magic.
  • Language Hat considers how “I tip my hat” might, translated, sound funny to a speaker of Canadian French.
  • Language Log considers how speakers of Korean, and other languages, can find word spacing a challenge.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the partisan politics of the US Supreme Court.
  • At the NYR Daily, Naomi Klein makes a case for the political and environmental necessity of a Green New Deal.
  • Peter Watts takes apart a recent argument proclaiming the existence of free will.
  • Peter Rukavina tells how travelling by rail or air from Prince Edward Island to points of the mainland can not only be terribly inconvenient, but environmentally worse than car travel. PEI does need better rail connections.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog examines how different countries in Europe will conduct their census in 2020.
  • Window on Eurasia shares the arguments of a geographer who makes the point that China has a larger effective territory than Russia (or Canada).
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell looks at a 1971 prediction by J.G. Ballard about demagoguery and guilt, something that now looks reasonably accurate.
  • Arnold Zwicky considers models of segregation of cartoon characters from normal ones in comics.

[PHOTO] Ten points I have taken from my recent trip

I have been left, during and after this recent trip, with a few thoughts and observations in my mind.

1. Friendship is magic. Other people, through their kindnesses, have transformed my life, and I only hope I have been able to have the same benefits for them. I do want to do better.

2. Always remember to use the active voice, not the passive voice. This holds true in life as much as in language.

3. Telephony in the European Union is remarkably affordable relative to my experience in Canada.

4. The Lombardo-Venetian countryside, glimpsed from bus and from train, is beautiful, but parts seemed to be in slight disrespair. Was this a real consequence of a decade of austerity, or is this just me projecting onto a helpless landscape? Discuss.

5. Venice is a marvel. For centuries, generation after generation of people took enormous care to build up a glorious city open to the world from the mud of the Venetian lagoon. Venice has flaws, but Venice’s successes far outshine these. We must find ways to keep this city alive.

6. Never underestimate the ability of islands to be cosmopolitan. I did not get to go to the old Ghetto, nor did I go to the churches of the Greeks and of the Dalmatians, but these three locations certainly exist, sustaining dynamic communities for centuries. The population of actual Venetians, meanwhile, is diverse; the Bangladesh-born operators of a San Polo gelateria we visited on our final night were not unique. It is not that islands are incapable of being open and diverse; rather, it is a matter of some people on some islands choosing to keep these islands from being home to open and diverse societies. (Prince Edward Islanders, take note of these anti-cosmopolitans your enemies.)

7. Murano and Burano, while small relative to Venice and removed from the heart of the Venetian lagoon’s archipelago, are worthy destinations for exploration.

8. Metropolises like Milan and Frankfurt, tempting as they were to me in their proximity, also to me merit more than a few hurried watch-watching hours of exploration. That would have been more tantalizing than satisfying.

9. I am more comfortable with Lufthansa, in the way that it deals with inevitable setbacks, than I do with United and its surprising successes. (I could make this into an illustration of a deeper contrast between German and American corporate practices, but should I? Discuss.)

10. We cannot do everything. I mentioned, in point 5, three destinations that I did not glimpse; as a long-standing fan of Sid Meier’s Colonization, I also regret not seeing the Arsenal. Even so: we are beings limited in space and time existing on the surface of a plane effectively endless in its diversity. A choice to reject all of it because we can only experience some of it, because we are not perfect, is the stuff of an ill-thought tragedy. Imprisoning ourselves is something we should learn to stop doing.

[NEWS] Five futurish links: Quadriga, Brexit, Facebook and Rohingya, basic income, friendship

  • This CBC feature on the apparent loss of a quarter-billion dollars via the Quadriga cryptocurrency makes the whole business look incredibly sketchy to me. Why would anyone rational take such risks?
  • At Open Democracy, Christine Berry suggests that after the Grenfell Tower catastrophe the idea of using Brexit to deregulate has become impossible. Is this a wedge issue?
  • Vox notes the effort of Facebook to try to hold itself accountable for providing a platform for the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya.
  • Inverse has a positive account of the guaranteed minimum income experiment in Finland, emphasizing the improved psychological state of recipients.
  • The Atlantic notes that one major impact of Facebook is that, through its medium, friendships can never quite completely die.

[WRITING] Five notes about writing in the social networking era

  • This older JSTOR Daily link suggests that, used properly, Facebook can actually be good for its users, helping them maintain vital social connections.
  • Alexandra Samuel’s suggestion, at JSTOR Daily, that Facebook revived the classical epistolary friendship has some sense to it. I would be inclined to place an emphasis on E-mail over more modern social messaging systems.
  • Drew Rowsome wrote a couple of months ago about how Facebook can make it difficult to post certain kinds of content without risking getting his ability to share this content limited.
  • Farah Mohammed wrote at JSTOR Daily about the rise and fall of the blog, now in 2017 scarcely as important as it was a decade ago. Social media just does not support the sorts of long extended posts I like, it seems.
  • Josephine Livingstone at The New Republic bids farewell to The Awl, an interesting online magazine that now looks as if it represented an earlier, failed model of writing. (What is the working one? Ha.)

Written by Randy McDonald

March 13, 2018 at 10:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Kambiz at Anthropology.net notes evidence that Neanderthals in Italy used fire to shape digging sticks 170 thousand years ago.
  • Missing persons blog Charley Ross reminds online commentators to be careful and reasonable in their speculations online, if only because these last forever.
  • D-Brief notes a new study of the TRAPPIST-1 system suggesting that its outermost planets, in the circumstellar habitable zone, are so low density that they must have abundant volatiles. Water is the most likely candidate.
  • Hornet Stories introduces readers to the impressive photography of New York City’s Peter Hujar.
  • At In Media Res, Russell Arben Fox meditates on the issues of friendship in the contemporary world.
  • Joe. My. God. shares representative Tammy Duckworth’s mockery of the authoritarian Donald Trump, aka “Cadet Bone Spurs”.
  • JSTOR Daily notes the continuing importance of the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
  • The Map Room Blog notes that someone has made cute maps of seven solar system worlds for children.
  • Marginal Revolution links to an article looking at how some of the schoolgirls abducted in Nigeria by Boko Haram are doing.
  • The NYR Daily engages with “Soul of a Nation”, a touring exhibit of African-American art in the era of Black Power.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reports from the scene of the impending Falcon Heavy launch, sharing photos.
  • Towleroad notes a South African church that not only beats its queer parishoners but fines them, too.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests</u. Western sanctions could hinder the Russian development of its Arctic presence.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Apostrophen’s ‘Nathan Smith points to his blog post about the strengths of the chosen families of queer people, in life and in his fiction.
  • Beyond the Beyond’s Bruce Sterling revisits the politics behind France’s Minitel network, archaic yet pioneering.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly blogs about meeting her online friends in real life. Frankly, it would never occur to me not to do that.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at how Kepler’s exoplanets fall neatly into separate classes, super-Earths and mini-Neptunes.
  • The LRB Blog has a terrible report from Grenfell Tower, surrounded by betrayed survivors and apocalypse.
  • The Map Room Blog notes the inclusion of Canada’s First Nations communities on Google Maps.
  • The NYRB Daily’s Robert Cottrell explores the banalities revealed by Oliver Stone’s interviews of Putin.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Jason Davis considers the likely gains and challenges associated with missions to the ice giants of Uranus and Neptune.
  • Towleroad notes the new Alan Cumming film After Louie, dealing with a romance between an ACT-UP survivor and a younger man
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s Ilya Somin does not find much good coming from Trump’s announced Cuba policy.
  • Window on Eurasia warns about the threat posed by Orthodox Christian fundamentalists in Russia.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • A BCer in Toronto Jeff Jedras describes a culinary event put on in Ottawa by Nova Scotia.
  • James Bow examines Minneapolis-St. Paul’s light rail network.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly writes about friendship.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the discovery of comets around HD 181327.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes reports of Russian nuclear missiles to be launched from rail cars.
  • Language Hat describes how the Texan Republican Party said most Texans were gay.
  • Language Log notes the rediscovery of five languages of pre-colonial Massachusetts, reflecting a high language density.
  • Window on Eurasia reports an economics-associated downturn in Russian haj participation.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly considers old friends.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the search for extraterrestrial civilizations using infrared astronomy, concentrating on Dyson spheres and the like.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze has two links to papers looking at unusual brown dwarfs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on the flora of late Permian Antarctica.
  • Language Log notes a potentially problematic effort at Bangladesh to put hundreds of thousands of Bengali words online with Google, ready for translators. What of quality control, Victor Mair asks?
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money comments on the Burmese slaves in the Thai fisheries and looks at the desperate last efforts of Confederates to persist.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests that air conditioning really didn’t drive much interstate migration in the United States.
  • The Planetary Society Blog observes discoveries and anticipation for more at Ceres and Pluto.
  • Savage Minds looks to the example of Lesotho to point out that giving people land title by no means necessarily helps them out of poverty.
  • Torontoist looks at the Prism music video prize.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO notes a Toronto vigil for the Jordanian pilot murdered by ISIS.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about friends and age gaps.
  • Centauri Dreams draws from Poul Anderson</a. to consider the far future.
  • Crooked Timber considers trolling.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper wondering why circumbinary exoplanets are so detectable.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at robots: robots which put out fires on American navy ships, robots in China which do deliveries for Alibaba, robots which smuggle drugs.
  • Far Outliers notes Singapore’s pragmatism and its strong military.
  • Language Log notes the language of language diversity.
  • Marginal Revolution wonders about the prospects of the Euro-tied Danish crown.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes the approach of Ceres.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer considers scenarios for a profitable Nicaragua Canal and notes the oddities of Argentina.
  • Registan looks at Mongolian investment in Tuva, and other adjacent Mongolian-influence Russian regions.
  • Savage Minds looks at Iroquois linguistic J.N.B. Hewitt.
  • Seriously Science notes how immigrant chimpanzees adapt tothe vocalizations of native chimps.
  • Spacing Toronto talks about the need for an activist mayor in Toronto.
  • Torontoist examines the history of important black bookstore Third World Books and Crafts.
  • Towleroad notes many young gay/bi students are looking for sugar daddies, and notes the failure of Slovakia’s anti-gay referendum.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes a new Bosnian Serb law strictly regulating offensive speech online.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the collapse of the Russian world, suggests Russia should not be allowed a role in Donbas, argues that a Ukrainian scenario is unlikely in the Latvian region of Latgale and in the Baltics more broadly, and looks at the growth of fascism in Russia.

[LINK] “On the Abuse of ‘Bro'”

Stephen Marche’s blog post at Esquire makes me think. (Among other things, it puts me in mind of the truism that men also need feminism to succeed, in order to free them of the norms of patriarchy.)

The use of the word bro is reaching epidemic levels. Now, after The Fast and the Furious and How I Met Your Mother and Breaking Bad, if a show contains more than one male character, they will, at some point, call each other by that name. Online, where cliché is rechristened meme, bro is a natural epithet: “Come at me, bro,” or “Don’t tase me, bro.” Among writers who are trying to be funny, the word has morphed into a series of fused words—comic portmanteaus (portmanbros, if you insist) that have launched a full-on brocabulary: brogrammers, for young male computer programmers; brostep, a white-male version of dubstep; and curlbros, for bros who spend too much time on their biceps. Subject to intense semantic distortion and fluctuation, the word bro is slippery, but one feature of its use and abuse remains constant: the underlying contempt for male friendship it implies.

That contempt is everywhere. The friendships between women in popular culture are the source and choicest fruit of their maturity. At the end of Frances Ha, Frances glimpses her old friend across a crowded room. “Who are you making eyes at?” somebody asks. “That’s Sophie. She’s my best friend.” Theirs was the film’s true love story all along. Insofar as a television show is about women, it’s about the meaningfulness of friendship—Sex and the City, Girls, Broad City, etc. For men, it’s just the opposite. Male friendship on any given sitcom, or in any given Judd Apatow movie, is a retreat into thoughtlessness, crudity. The Big Lebowski hilariously painted male friendship as an extended and colossal fuckup. The Hangover movies turned it into a series of epic degradations. But the standard buddy movie of the moment, a movie like 22 Jump Street, is defined by a single word: dumb. That’s why the greatest buddy movie of them all is Dumb and Dumber (although it may well be surpassed by its sequel this fall, Dumb and Dumber To). Men get together onscreen to be idiots with one another. To mature as a female person is to mature into female friendships. To mature as a male person is to mature out of male friendships.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the culture that has given rise to the word bro is a culture in which male friendship is in crisis. American men are more likely not only to be lonely but also to deny their loneliness.For twenty-five years, Niobe Way, professor of applied psychology at New York University and the author of 2011’s Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection, has peered into the chasm under boys and young men and found that emptiness to be at the heart of what we call the “boy crisis.” “We have all these boys, with so much to give, so much love, so much for them to offer the world,” she says. For Way, the transition from boyhood into manhood is a transition into isolation. Becoming a man means leaving behind your family and your friends and striking out on your own, and therefore growing up means shedding connections. Way’s research shows that the male suicide rate correlates precisely with the loss of friendships. At age nine, the suicide rates are the same for girls and boys. Between ten and fourteen, boys are twice as likely to kill themselves. Between fifteen and nineteen, they are four times as likely. From twenty to twenty-four, five times.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 28, 2014 at 7:43 pm