A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘health

[VIDEO] The streets of Toronto, as seen by drone

Written by Randy McDonald

March 29, 2020 at 10:30 am

[BRIEF NOTE] “So Near the Touch”, a #StarTrek story about #socialdistancing (@GeorgeTakei)

The current coronavirus pandemic in Canada and the wider world has made me think of a few things. One of these is the apparently overlooked story “So Near the Touch”, the story in the first annual of the second DC Comics run of Star Trek comics published in July 1990.

Co-written by George Takei and Peter David (different sources suggest that Takei provided the story), “So Near the Touch” is centered on the world of Datugan, a Federation trading partner that was so eager to export an energy-generating ore that it irremediably polluted its environment. The very people of Datugan have been so contaminated by pollution that two individuals cannot risk bodily contact, else they self-combust. They are doomed.

The Federation, feeling some responsibility for this catastrophe, has initiated a grand project of rebirth, to use in vitro techniques to let the Datugan species continue on a clean new world. The Enterprise-A is assigned to escort a medical team lead by one Corazon Kohwangko to Datugan to help start off this project. Sulu, who has a romantic history with Kohwangko, is pleased to be reunited with her. On arrival at Datugan, the mission encounters unexpected trouble from Datugans opposed to this program.

“So Near the Touch” is an effective short story, setting a credible romance for Sulu with an interesting partner against the backdrop of a dying world with people desperate for help. (Reading this now gives me some insight into Takei’s upset with the movies’ portrayal of Sulu as gay; here, Takei literally wrote Sulu as straight.) I find that it resonates particularly with me now, living under conditions of COVID-19 quarantine, deprived of direct contact with anyone for fear of infection. Takei and David got the corrosive impacts of isolation quite nicely.

The physical issue is available on eBay, while electronic copies can be acquired from the usual places.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 25, 2020 at 3:45 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

[CAT] Five #caturday links: Newfoundland, Australia, tracking, body language, bodies

  • The rescue of cats from the Newfoundland outport of Little Bay Islands, now abandoned, was a success. Global News reports.
  • Cats in Australia may be in a position to ravage vulnerable survivors of the wildfires. Wired reports.
  • The Purrsong Pendant is a new fitness tracker for cats. CNET reports.
  • Humans do need to be able to read the body language of cats, and not only to figure out when they are in pain. CP24 reports.
  • Is anyone surprised cats might eat human corpses? Newsweek reports.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 18, 2020 at 9:15 pm

[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.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Bad Astronomy notes the very odd structure of galaxy NGC 2775.
  • Dangerous Minds reports on the 1987 riot by punks that wrecked a Seattle ferry.
  • Bruce Dorminey reports on a new suggestion from NASA that the massive dust towers of Mars have helped dry out that world over eons.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at how changing technologies have led to younger people spending more social capital on maintaining relationships with friends over family.
  • This forum hosted at Gizmodo considers the likely future causes of death of people in coming decades.
  • In Media Res’ Russell Arben Fox reports on the debate in Wichita on what to do with the Century II performance space.
  • Joe. My. God. reports on the decision of Hungary to drop out of Eurovision, apparently because of its leaders’ homophobia.
  • JSTOR Daily reports on the debunking of the odd theory that the animals and people of the Americas were degenerate dwarfs.
  • Language Hat reports on how the classics can be served by different sorts of translation.
  • Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money considers how Trump’s liberation of war criminals relates to folk theories about just wars.
  • The LRB Blog reports from the ground in the Scotland riding of East Dunbartonshire.
  • Marginal Revolution shares a paper suggesting that, contrary to much opinion, social media might actually hinder the spread of right-wing populism.
  • The NYR Daily looks at the nature of the proxy fighters in Syria of Turkey. Who are they?
  • Drew Rowsome interviews Sensational Sugarbum, star of–among other things–the latest Ross Petty holiday farce.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel explains why we still need to be able to conduct astronomy from the Earth.
  • Strange Maps explains the odd division of Europe between east and west, as defined by different subspecies of mice.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how Chinese apparently group Uighurs in together with other Central Asians of similar language and religion.
  • Arnold Zwicky explores the concept of onomatomania.

[URBAN NOTE] Seven city links: Pierrefonds, Edmundston, Saskatoon, Louisville, Belfast, Jerusalem …

  • Ending free coffee for municipal employees in the Québec community of Pierrefonds created massive controversy. CBC reports.
  • The mayor of the Francophone city of Edmundston in New Brunswick has encouraged immigrant Québec students hurt by immigration changes to come to his community. CTV News reports.
  • The price of crystal meth in Saskatoon is apparently as low as $3 a bag. Global News reports.
  • Guardian Cities notes how Louisville, low on trees, is trying to regreen the city as a way to deal with rising temperatures.
  • Open Democracy considers if the DUP is about to lose its strongholds in Belfast.
  • Guardian Cities looks at the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Kafr Aqab, a place where Palestinians can access their metropolis (and their partners).
  • CityLab shares photos of the wonderful new public library of Helsinki.