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[MUSIC] Alexis Petridis in The Guardian on the magic of pop music concerts

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Writing in the aftermath of the Manchester attack, The Guardian‘s Alexis Petridis writes about how his understanding of the pop music concert changed when he saw the impact that it had on his daughter. It points the young child to the possibility of an exciting adult future.

There was more to the magic than infectious enthusiasm. I have spent a not-insignificant proportion of my working life at pop gigs in arenas filled with kids and teenagers, usually in a state of mild bemusement. I have seen shows I thought were abysmal and shows I thought were impressively slick. I have seen artists treat their audience with something bordering on contempt (there is something incredibly galling about watching a singer who can’t even be bothered to pretend to mime) and artists who genuinely left me open-mouthed (Miley Cyrus, following her decision to abandon her squeaky-clean Disney image for something deliberately provocative). I could make an informed, objective critical judgment about them, but I never fully understood them, never really grasped what they were for, never really got what was going on in the audience, until I saw one through my daughter’s eyes.

It wasn’t just that she was overawed by the spectacle, although she was: stuff I took for granted – lasers, pyrotechnics, confetti cannons, all the usual bells and whistles of a big pop show – were a constant source of overwhelming sensory overload. Nor was it the way her lack of cynicism made me reconsider my own feelings, although that happened too. I have always been deeply suspicious of the kind of rhetoric that modern pop surrounds itself with: all that platitudinous “just be yourself”, “if you dream it you can do it” stuff. But my daughter took it all at face value and I ended up thinking: Well, there’s certainly worse messages you can send out to kids.

But mostly it was the way it gave her a first glimpse of a world that was previously outside her experience, a more adult, or at least more mature world than the one she knew, a world that would one day be her own, and how excited she was to see it, how – as she put it – grown-up it made her feel. She experienced something that transcended her pretty fickle and changeable musical allegiances. Jessie J has long been replaced in her affections – by, among others, Ariana Grande. The selfie she took that night is still on her bedroom wall. If that was true of a seven-year-old being chaperoned by her father, how much more true was it for the kids that were just old enough to be there without their parents, the ones who had relegated their mums and dads to waiting in the foyer or outside in the car?

Written by Randy McDonald

May 25, 2017 at 11:37 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • D-Brief shares rare video of beaked whales on the move.
  • Dangerous Minds notes that someone has actually begun selling unauthorized action figures of Trump Administration figures like Bannon and Spencer.
  • Language Log looks at a linguistic feature of Emma Watson’s quote, her ending it with a preposition.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen considers, originally for Bloomberg View, if Trump could be seen as a placebo for what ails America.
  • The New APPS Blog takes a Marxist angle on the issue of big data, from the perspective of (among other things) primitive accumulation.
  • The Search reports on the phenomenon of the Women’s History Month Wikipedia edit-a-thon, aiming to literally increase the representation of notable women on Wikipedia.
  • Towleroad notes the six men who will be stars of a new Fire Island reality television show.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy finds some merit in Ben Carson’s description of American slaves as immigrants. (Some.)
  • Window on Eurasia argues that Belarusians are beginning to mobilize against their government and suggests they are already making headway.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Dangerous Minds suggests that T-shirts with wildly offensive phrases in English are common in Asia. Asian friends and readers, is this actually true?
  • The LRB Blog makes the point that immigration restrictionism is hardly a policy that will aid hard-pressed workers, that only broader reform will do this.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at how the state bureaucracy in India can hinder the implementation of reforms.
  • The NYRB Daily reviews a grim play, Wallace Shawn’s Evening at the Talk House, set in a near future where cruelty is normalized.
  • The Planetary Society Blog talks about the intricate maneuvers of the Dawn probe in Ceres orbit.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw links to photos of a stunning home in Catalonia built in a slightly refurbished industrial plant.
  • Peter Rukavina talks about how he built an app for Charlottetown’s City Cinema.
  • Seriously Science reports on a study suggesting that most people would not wish to know the future, even if it was a good future.
  • Strange Maps links to an online map tool comparing different countries.
  • Supernova Condensate shares a fantastic chart showing how much delta-v one would need to expend to reach different points in the solar system from Earth orbit.
  • Transit Toronto notes that the Sheppard subway line will be closed this weekend.
  • Linguist Arnold Zwicky links to and reflects on a recent article looking at how gendered language for different jobs can discourage, differently, male and female job-seekers.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Antipope’s Charlie Stross wonders if the politics of Trump might mean an end to the British nuclear deterrent.
  • Centauri Dreams shares Andrew LePage’s evaluation of the TRAPPIST-1 system, where he concludes that there are in fact three plausible candidates for habitable status there.
  • Dangerous Minds shares the gender-bending photographs of Norwegian photographers Marie Høeg and Bolette Berg.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog takes a look at the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.
  • The Extremo Files looks at the human microbiome.
  • Language Hat links to an article on Dakhani, a south Indian Urdu dialect.
  • The LRB Blog looks at policing in London.
  • The Map Room Blog notes that 90% of the hundred thousand lakes of Manitoba are officially unnamed.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at the remarkable Akshardham Temple of New Delhi.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes how citizen scientists detected changes in Rosetta’s comet.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer provides a visual guide for New Yorkers at the size of the proposed border wall.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog links to a paper taking a look at the history of abortion in 20th century France.
  • Torontoist looks at the 1840s influx of Irish refugees to Toronto.
  • Understanding Society takes a look at the research that went into the discovery of the nucleus of the atom.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on Belarus.
  • Arnold Zwicky shares photos and commentary on the stars and plot of Oscar-winning film Midnight.

[URBAN NOTE] “Burned down Badminton and Racquet Club had 90-year storied history”

CBC News’ Alexandra Sienkiewicz looks at the long history of the Badminton and Racquet Club destroyed by fire, noting–among other things–a conservatism that once extended down to barring non-white males from membership.

When a devastating fire swept through the 90-year-old Badminton and Racquet Club near Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue Tuesday afternoon, the organization added yet another chapter to its storied history.

The club opened in 1924 when the old TTC streetcar barns on St. Clair Avenue were converted into seven badminton courts. The B & R, as it’s affectionately known among those who use it, started with only a few members from Toronto’s elite — but has since grown to include more than 2,750 members. To this day, it remains a private facility and access can be gained by membership only.

The club has also been known for its history of segregation of the sexes. It wasn’t until 1980 that women were allowed to sit in on board meetings — but without voting rights. “Women are to be seen and not heard,” says the club’s website in describing that period of its history.

“The idea of women on the board had been rejected annually as many of the men on the board felt that the “right kind of man” would not serve if there were women at the table,” it adds.

It was only in 1997 when men and women could sit together when a co-ed dining room was introduced — nearly 75 years after the club’s opening.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 15, 2017 at 5:30 pm

[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.

[LINK] “Premier Kathleen Wynne bombarded on social media by homophobic, sexist abuse”

There are many reasons to criticize the government of Ontario’s Liberal premier, Kathleen Wynne. There are many ways to criticize her. The personal abuse described in Mike Crawley’s CBC News report is not one of these ways.

The replies to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne on Twitter are not for the faint of heart.

The tweets at Wynne predominantly express anger about her record and most stay within the bounds of fair comment, not crossing the line into personal abuse. Such calls as “Resign!” “You’re incompetent!” and “Worst premier ever!” are now simply part of the deal for a politician in the era of social media.

But Wynne also draws a significant number of abusive, sexist and homophobic tweets. [. . .]

The comments on Wynne’s Facebook page are equally nasty, but her communications team filters out posts that contain the most abusive words so the public can’t view them.

A member of the premier’s staff showed CBC News nearly 40 Facebook posts filtered out from just the past week, including ones calling Wynne a “wrinkly bitch” (by a Facebook user named George Onock) a “subhuman, dirty dyke” (Frank Yurkowski) and a “lying cheating c–t.”

Written by Randy McDonald

January 25, 2017 at 8:00 pm