A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘margaret atwood

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait notes how the warp in space-time made by the black hole in V404 Cygni has been detected.
  • The Crux reports on the discovery of the remains of a chicha brewery in pre-Columbian Peru.
  • D-Brief notes a new model for the creation of the Moon by impact with primordial Earth that would explain oddities with the Earth still being molten, having a magma ocean.
  • Bruce Dorminey shares the idea that extraterrestrial civilizations might share messages with posterity through DNA encoded in bacteria set adrift in space.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on progress in drones and UAVs made worldwide.
  • Gizmodo notes some of the privacy issues involved with Alexa.
  • JSTOR Daily explains how some non-mammals, including birds and fish, nurse their young.
  • Language Hat reports on the latest studies in the ancient linguistic history of East Asia, with suggestions that Old Japanese has connections to the languages of the early Korean states of Silla and Paekche but not to that of Koguryo.
  • Language Log considers the issues involved with the digitization of specialized dictionaries.
  • Paul Campos at Lawyers, Guns and Money remembers the start of the Spanish Civil War.
  • Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution points towards his recent interview with Margaret Atwood.
  • The NYR Daily reports on a remarkable new play, Heidi Schreck’s What The Constitution Means To Me.
  • Towleroad reports on what Hunter Kelly, one of the men who operatives tried to recruit to spread slander against Pete Buttigieg, has to say about the affair.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that a Russian annexation of Belarus would not be an easy affair.
  • Arnold Zwicky reports on the latest signs of language change, this time in the New Yorker.

[URBAN NOTE] Five notes on real estate in a changing Toronto

  • blogTO notes that the former location of Pages on Queen Street West finally has a new tenant, a housewares store.
  • Margaret Atwood’s opposition to a Davenport Road condo development made headlines.
  • Christopher Hume in the Toronto Star makes the point that Toronto needs more midrise housing.
  • Global News reports the sad news that Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat has resigned.
  • Toronto Life describes how a lucky young couple in their 20s found an affordable apartment downtown, on Yonge, even!

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Anthropology.net looks at the genetics of how the Inuit have adapted to cold weather.
  • ‘Nathan Smith’s Apostrophen shares the author’s plans for the coming year.
  • Beyond the Beyond’s Bruce Sterling shares Margaret Atwood’s commitment to fighting for freedom of expression.
  • Crooked Timber asks its readers for recommendations in Anglophone science fiction.
  • D-Brief notes the discovery of the human mesentery.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze looks at the protoplanetary disk of LkCa 15 disk.
  • Far Outliers looks at some lobsters imported to Japan from (a) Christmas Island.
  • Joe. My. God. notes Janet Jackson has given birth.
  • Language Hat examines the contrast often made between indigenous and immigrant languages.
  • Language Log looks at the names of the stations of the Haifa subway.
  • Steve Munro notes Bathurst Station’s goodbye to Honest Ed’s.
  • The Planetary Society Blog examines the Dawn probe’s discoveries at Ceres in the past year.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at how the permafrost of the Russian far north is melting and endangering entire cities, and contrasts the prosperity of the Estonian city of Narva relative to the decay of adjacent Ivangorod.

[URBAN NOTE] Four Torontoist links

Torontoist has been posting quite a few interesting articles of late. Four of particular note are linked to below.

  • Hamutal Dotan writes about how The Onion’s A.V. Club cultural weekly has shut down after ten months.
  • The news formally went out internally via a staff memo today, which stated that TorStar made the decision “due to economic pressures resulting in declining ad revenues.” We asked Bob Hepburn, director of communications for TorStar, whether this boded ill for other TorStar publications in the short term; he told us that this decision is “specific to the Onion, but it’s well-known that advertising revenues for many publications and broadcast outlets across North America are declining.”

    Though hopes were high for the A.V. Club, Toronto’s edition may have fallen prey to a particularly tight media market, says editor (and former Torontoist contributor) John Semley. “I had a lot of support from the publisher and they worked really hard,” he told us by phone today. “Especially in a city like Toronto that is one of the most competitive media environments in North America, the idea of starting up a new alt-weekly and thinking it will be immediately a success, because there is an insatiable appetite for this kind of thing…it’s just not true. It’s hard to do in a year… Everyone at the Onion and everyone at TorStar worked as hard as they could to make it work.”

  • Jamie Bradburn noted Toronto’s new Sticky Plaques commemorating noteworthy events and locations around the city.
  • [T]here’s only so much information that can physically be placed on a plaque. Local history enthusiast Adam Bunch has come up with one solution: the “sticky plaque,” a sticker with a QR code which allows the curious to learn more about places where “something cool [or sad] and historical happened on this spot.”

    The sticky plaques are the latest manifestation of the Toronto Dreams Project that Bunch has worked on since 2010. While researching material for postcards about Toronto’s past that he placed around the city, he realized just how many stories are lurking out there that deserve some sort of commemoration. Trying to figure out how to bring a guerilla-style approach to local history, and inspired by street artists and organizations like the Toronto Public Space Committee, Bunch thought about suggestions he received regarding printing QR codes on the postcards. He realized that large stickers could be printed cheaply and posted near existing traditional plaques to add to the information they include, or in spots where they currently don’t exist. The links go to pieces that Bunch has written or to other relevant sites that he finds informative (including Torontoist).

    So far, about two dozen sticky plaques have been posted around the city, commemorating events ranging from fatal Christmas Eve streetcar crashes to William Faulkner’s drunken adventures in a biplane at the University of Toronto. Among his favourites is the story of the statue of King Edward VII in Queen’s Park, which originally stood in Delhi, India. After independence, the statue was removed from its prime location and left to rot with other colonial monuments until it was shipped to Toronto in the late 1960s.

  • Margaret Atwood, Carly Maga writes, is using one of Rob Ford’s gaffes to earn money for charity.
  • Late yesterday afternoon, a one-of-a-kind T-shirt printed with an image of a charming Mayor Ford flipping the bird under the slogan “Welcome to Toronto,” signed by the legendary Canadian author Margaret Atwood, went up for auction on eBay. The proceeds will go to Fanado, a new online venture that Atwood founded.

    Drawn in the style of a political cartoon, with emphasis on the mayor’s chin, the shirt references that time last year when he allegedly gave the middle finger to a woman and her young daughter, after the woman had scolded him for driving while talking on his cellphone.

    The shirt was given to Atwood during a visit to Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone, where she met with young entrepreneurs, offered feedback on their projects, and looked for possible fits between them and Fanado—an online portal for connecting fans with artists. Atwood, of course, has been a Rob rival ever since the Ford brothers dared to mess with Toronto libraries. Doug even once boasted that if he saw her on the street, he “wouldn’t have a clue” who she was.

    Spying an opportunity, Atwood decided to sign the shirt and auction it off to help Fanado raise $85,000 on the crowd-funding site IndieGogo (the fundraising campaign continues until July 28). This isn’t Atwood’s first attempt at eBay success. Curtis White, a school teacher in Edmonton, Alberta, just closed an auction of a signed portrait of Atwood by his artist wife, Oksana Zhelisko, for $1,000 on behalf of Fanado. Atwood reached out to him again to post the Rob Ford T-shirt, available for bids until next Thursday.

  • James Gen Meers describes his documentary on graffiti and how Rob Ford’s

    If you are going to wipe out an art form, as Ford would literally like to do, you should understand it first. Some graffiti artists have tried to work with the City to promote an understanding of the difference between graffiti art and vandalism. The City has tried to create a program, StreetARToronto, to promote graffiti and street art, but it is not widely lauded by the artists or the general public.

    In the process of making our film (which was recently selected to partner with the Hot Docs Film Festival’s Ignite crowd-funding initiative), we’ve seen widespread support for and interest in graffiti and street art. It has been very interesting opening our project up to the public and hearing the views of Torontonians about the subject—which are certainly more varied than the mayor’s.

    A recent artists’ takeover of Astral Media information pillars. Photo by Martin Reis.
    In interviewing artists, the thing that comes up all the time is the role of corporate advertising versus public art, and the possibility that people don’t think about how they are affected by advertising in public spaces. People complain about graffiti and street art on public walls, but they don’t consider whether billboards and other forms of public advertising are desirable or even legal (in many instances, they are not). Toronto itself has instigated an ongoing conversation on this issue, particularly around illegal billboards in Toronto, heightened by the recent passage of a consolidated billboard bylaw and the creation of a new billboard tax—one that was challenged in court, though it has since been upheld. The graffiti writers and street artists we have been speaking with have repeatedly asked: “If outdoor advertising is legal, does that mean it is good?”

  • Written by Randy McDonald

    October 16, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    [URBAN NOTE] Four Torontoist links

    Torontoist has been posting quite a few interesting articles of late. Four of particular note are linked to below.

  • Hamutal Dotan writes about how The Onion’s A.V. Club cultural weekly has shut down after ten months.
  • The news formally went out internally via a staff memo today, which stated that TorStar made the decision “due to economic pressures resulting in declining ad revenues.” We asked Bob Hepburn, director of communications for TorStar, whether this boded ill for other TorStar publications in the short term; he told us that this decision is “specific to the Onion, but it’s well-known that advertising revenues for many publications and broadcast outlets across North America are declining.”

    Though hopes were high for the A.V. Club, Toronto’s edition may have fallen prey to a particularly tight media market, says editor (and former Torontoist contributor) John Semley. “I had a lot of support from the publisher and they worked really hard,” he told us by phone today. “Especially in a city like Toronto that is one of the most competitive media environments in North America, the idea of starting up a new alt-weekly and thinking it will be immediately a success, because there is an insatiable appetite for this kind of thing…it’s just not true. It’s hard to do in a year… Everyone at the Onion and everyone at TorStar worked as hard as they could to make it work.”

  • Jamie Bradburn noted Toronto’s new Sticky Plaques commemorating noteworthy events and locations around the city.
  • [T]here’s only so much information that can physically be placed on a plaque. Local history enthusiast Adam Bunch has come up with one solution: the “sticky plaque,” a sticker with a QR code which allows the curious to learn more about places where “something cool [or sad] and historical happened on this spot.”

    The sticky plaques are the latest manifestation of the Toronto Dreams Project that Bunch has worked on since 2010. While researching material for postcards about Toronto’s past that he placed around the city, he realized just how many stories are lurking out there that deserve some sort of commemoration. Trying to figure out how to bring a guerilla-style approach to local history, and inspired by street artists and organizations like the Toronto Public Space Committee, Bunch thought about suggestions he received regarding printing QR codes on the postcards. He realized that large stickers could be printed cheaply and posted near existing traditional plaques to add to the information they include, or in spots where they currently don’t exist. The links go to pieces that Bunch has written or to other relevant sites that he finds informative (including Torontoist).

    So far, about two dozen sticky plaques have been posted around the city, commemorating events ranging from fatal Christmas Eve streetcar crashes to William Faulkner’s drunken adventures in a biplane at the University of Toronto. Among his favourites is the story of the statue of King Edward VII in Queen’s Park, which originally stood in Delhi, India. After independence, the statue was removed from its prime location and left to rot with other colonial monuments until it was shipped to Toronto in the late 1960s.

  • Margaret Atwood, Carly Maga writes, is using one of Rob Ford’s gaffes to earn money for charity.
  • Late yesterday afternoon, a one-of-a-kind T-shirt printed with an image of a charming Mayor Ford flipping the bird under the slogan “Welcome to Toronto,” signed by the legendary Canadian author Margaret Atwood, went up for auction on eBay. The proceeds will go to Fanado, a new online venture that Atwood founded.

    Drawn in the style of a political cartoon, with emphasis on the mayor’s chin, the shirt references that time last year when he allegedly gave the middle finger to a woman and her young daughter, after the woman had scolded him for driving while talking on his cellphone.

    The shirt was given to Atwood during a visit to Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone, where she met with young entrepreneurs, offered feedback on their projects, and looked for possible fits between them and Fanado—an online portal for connecting fans with artists. Atwood, of course, has been a Rob rival ever since the Ford brothers dared to mess with Toronto libraries. Doug even once boasted that if he saw her on the street, he “wouldn’t have a clue” who she was.

    Spying an opportunity, Atwood decided to sign the shirt and auction it off to help Fanado raise $85,000 on the crowd-funding site IndieGogo (the fundraising campaign continues until July 28). This isn’t Atwood’s first attempt at eBay success. Curtis White, a school teacher in Edmonton, Alberta, just closed an auction of a signed portrait of Atwood by his artist wife, Oksana Zhelisko, for $1,000 on behalf of Fanado. Atwood reached out to him again to post the Rob Ford T-shirt, available for bids until next Thursday.

  • James Gen Meers describes his documentary on graffiti and how Rob Ford’s

    If you are going to wipe out an art form, as Ford would literally like to do, you should understand it first. Some graffiti artists have tried to work with the City to promote an understanding of the difference between graffiti art and vandalism. The City has tried to create a program, StreetARToronto, to promote graffiti and street art, but it is not widely lauded by the artists or the general public.

    In the process of making our film (which was recently selected to partner with the Hot Docs Film Festival’s Ignite crowd-funding initiative), we’ve seen widespread support for and interest in graffiti and street art. It has been very interesting opening our project up to the public and hearing the views of Torontonians about the subject—which are certainly more varied than the mayor’s.

    A recent artists’ takeover of Astral Media information pillars. Photo by Martin Reis.
    In interviewing artists, the thing that comes up all the time is the role of corporate advertising versus public art, and the possibility that people don’t think about how they are affected by advertising in public spaces. People complain about graffiti and street art on public walls, but they don’t consider whether billboards and other forms of public advertising are desirable or even legal (in many instances, they are not). Toronto itself has instigated an ongoing conversation on this issue, particularly around illegal billboards in Toronto, heightened by the recent passage of a consolidated billboard bylaw and the creation of a new billboard tax—one that was challenged in court, though it has since been upheld. The graffiti writers and street artists we have been speaking with have repeatedly asked: “If outdoor advertising is legal, does that mean it is good?”

  • Written by Randy McDonald

    July 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    [BLOG-LIKE POSTING] On non-hypocritical anti-abortion laws and activists

    News of a proposed law in Georgia that could subject women who have miscarriages to the death penalty has been extensively covered–here, for instance, by Mother Jones‘ Jen Philips, interviewed in the below MSNBC segment.

    Her summary?

    There’s a new bill on the block that may have reached the apex (I hope) of woman-hating craziness. Georgia State Rep. Bobby Franklin—who last year proposed making rape and domestic violence “victims” into “accusers”—has introduced a 10-page bill that would criminalize miscarriages and make abortion in Georgia completely illegal. Both miscarriages and abortions would be potentially punishable by death: any “prenatal murder” in the words of the bill, including “human involvement” in a miscarriage, would be a felony and carry a penalty of life in prison or death. Basically, it’s everything an “pro-life” activist could want aside from making all women who’ve had abortions wear big red “A”s on their chests.

    I doubt that a bill that makes a legal medical procedure liable for the death penalty will pass. The bill, however, shows an astonishing lack of concern for women’s health and well-being. Under Rep. Franklin’s bill, HB 1, women who miscarry could become felons if they cannot prove that there was “no human involvement whatsoever in the causation” of their miscarriage. There is no clarification of what “human involvement” means, and this is hugely problematic as medical doctors do not know exactly what causes miscarriages. Miscarriages are estimated to terminate up to a quarter of all pregnancies and the Mayo Clinic says that “the actual number is probably much higher because many miscarriages occur so early in pregnancy that a woman doesn’t even know she’s pregnant. Most miscarriages occur because the fetus isn’t developing normally.”

    Holding women criminally liable for a totally natural, common biological process is cruel and non-sensical. Even more ridiculous, the bill holds women responsible for protecting their fetuses from “the moment of conception,” despite the fact that pregnancy tests aren’t accurate until at least 3 weeks after conception. Unless Franklin (who is not a health professional) invents a revolutionary intrauterine conception alarm system, it’s unclear how exactly the state of Georgia would enforce that rule other than holding all possibly-pregnant women under lock and key.

    Besides noting that this legislation almost certainly exists in the Glileadean theocracy that Margaret Atwood describes in her The Handmaid’s Tale–a book that, I should note, was certainly not intended by Atwood to be an instructional tome–I will say that Franklin is one of the few strongly anti-abortion people I know who are consistent in their positions.

  • I have always found find remarkably inconsistent the people who condemn abortion as murder, innumerable abortions as acts of genocide entirely comparable to anything done by Hitler or Stalin, and then go on to not favour radical action in the name of the millions murdered hypocritical. Are these human lives, or are these human lives?
  • Likewise, I have always found inconsistent those call abortion murder but then go on to call the women who commissioned their abortions as victims, undeserving of criminal prosecution. Why should infanticide escape punishment? Even if women aren’t fully capable moral actors, surely they knew what they were doing and–wicked, wicked!–planned anyway to murder the life that they were to nurture.
  • Franklin is a man who’s consistent: yes, a fetus is a human life as worthy of protection as any other; yes; women who don’t take proper care of the life that they’re supposed to nurture should be punished. His radical honesty isn’t something a sane civilization should strive for, mind, but it’s something to be noted. Would that other anti-abortion opinionmakers were as consistent as him.

    And below, for illustrative purposes, is a 2008 photo I took of the address of the former location of Dr. Henry Morgenthaler’s famous Harbord Street abortion clinic in downtown Toronto. You know he got the Order of Canada, right?

    85 Harbord

    Written by Randy McDonald

    March 10, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    [LINK] “Margaret Atwood learns to love Twitter”

    Canadian author Margaret Atwood is active on Twitter as–naturally–@MargaretAtwood. Some days ago, she wrote an article for the Toronto Star explaining why she’s such a big fan and active participant.

    The Twittersphere is an odd and uncanny place. It’s something like having fairies at the bottom of your garden. How do you know anyone is who h/she says he is, especially when they put up pictures of themselves that might be their feet, or a cat, or a Mardi Gras mask, or a tin of Spam? Of course, my Followers are a self-selected bunch: maybe other people don’t get the tins of Spam. I do have a number of techno-geeks and bio-geeks, as well as many book fans.

    But despite their sometimes strange appearances, I’m well pleased with my Followers: they’re a playful but also a helpful group. If you ask them for advice, it’s immediately forthcoming: thanks to them, I learned how to make a Twitpic photo appear as if by magic, and how to shorten a URL using bit.ly or tiny.url. They’ve sent me many interesting items pertaining to artificially grown pig flesh, unusual slugs, and the like. (They deduce my interests.) Some of them have appeared at tour events bearing small packages of organic shade-grown fair-trade coffee. I’ve even had a special badge made by a Follower, just for me: “The ‘call me a visionary, because I do a pretty convincing science dystopia’ badge.” It looks like this:

    They’re sharp: make a typo and they’re on it like a shot, and they tease without mercy. However, if you set them a verbal challenge, a frisson sweeps through them. They did very well with definitions for “dold socks” — one of my typos — and “Thnax,” another one. And they really shone when, during the Olympics, I said that “Own the podium” was too brash to be Canadian, and suggested “A podium might be nice.” Their own variations poured onto a feed tagged #cpodium: “A podium! For me?” “Rent the podium, see if we like it.” “Mind if I squeeze by you to get onto that podium?” I was so proud of them! It was like having 33,000 precocious grandchildren!

    They raise funds for charity via things like Twestival (www.twestival.com), they solicit donations for catastrophe victims, they send word of upcoming events, they exchange titles of books they like. Once in a while they’re naughty: I did get word of a fellow who’d made a key safe by hollowing out one of my books. (Big yuks from his pals, one of whom ratted him out to me and even sent a pic.) But after I threatened to put the Purple Cross-eyed Zozzle Curse on him, he assured me that no disrespect was intended. (He was forgiven.)

    So what’s it all about, this Twitter? Is it signaling, like telegraphs? Is it Zen poetry? Is it jokes scribbled on the washroom wall? Is it John Hearts Mary carved on a tree? Let’s just say it’s communication, and communication is something human beings like to do.

    Written by Randy McDonald

    April 15, 2010 at 11:31 pm