A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘politics

[ISL] “Fear of Rattlesnake Island”

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The NYR Daily’s Christopher Benfey reports about the controversy surrounding the reintroduction of snakes to a Massachusetts island.

We were sitting, my wife and I, at a summer dinner party by the pool, in honor of a mother and her college-age daughter visiting from Chicago. Just for a moment, as night was coming on, the subject of rattlesnakes—our Massachusetts Timber Rattlesnakes, Crotalus horridus, to be precise—edged out the incessant talk of Trump Trump Trump. Our visitors, full of the police troubles in Chicago, were unaware of the Great Rattlesnake Controversy, and Tara, our well-informed hostess, weighed in first.

Four towns in central Massachusetts, she explained, were deliberately flooded during the 1930s, their entire population—along with 6,000 graves, she added ghoulishly—“relocated” to create the Quabbin Reservoir, and bring water to Boston. Some quaint houses were salvaged from the general destruction and moved, wall by wall, to prosperous towns like Amherst (where we now live), but stores and other businesses, a state highway, even a railroad, were lost forever.

As two huge dams were set in place and the waters rose, eventually covering thirty-nine square miles, some of the higher elevations—like Mount Ararat after Noah’s flood—became islands in the vast expanse. One of these islands, closed to public access and located in the middle of the reservoir, is named Mount Zion, and it was here that the state of Massachusetts has proposed to introduce a small colony of Timber Rattlesnakes, beginning in 2017, to the vehement outrage of many local residents, who treasure the banks of the Quabbin for fishing and its pristine waters for boating.

Tara is a local, unlike the rest of us urban transplants, and I respected her sense of solidarity with the displaced. Their parents and grandparents were not asked if they were okay with abandoning their homes; they themselves were not asked if they wouldn’t mind having a few rattlesnakes as neighbors. But I myself would not have begun the story with the eradication of the four towns by government fiat, and the scattering of their population.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 19, 2016 at 9:20 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • At Antipope, Charlie Stross describes how Brexit has forced him to rewrite his latest novel.
  • D-Brief suggests early Venus was once habitable, and notes the rumour of an Earth-like planet found around Proxima Centauri.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the detection of storms of brown dwarfs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on more signs of water on Mars.
  • False Steps notes an early American proposal for a space station in orbit of the Moon.
  • Language Hat talks about lost books, titles deserving broader readership.
  • The LRB Blog talks about the EU and Brexit.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a study suggesting Trump support is concentrated among people close to those who have lost out from trade.
  • Neuroskeptic reports on the story of H.M., a man who lost the ability to form new memories following a brain surgery.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy engages the idea of voting with a lesser evil.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the role of immigrants in Moscow’s economy.

[URBAN NOTE] “Pride Toronto executive director resigns after allegations of racism, sexual harassment”

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Adam Miller’s Global News report about the turmoil behind the resignation of Pride Toronto executive director Mathieu Chantelois is eyebrow-raising, to say the least.

The executive director of Pride Toronto has resigned amid allegations he sexually harassed staff members, left “controlled substances” in the organization’s headquarters and was abusive, manipulative, racist, sexist and transphobic, according to an internal email allegedly written by staff members obtained by Global News.

Mathieu Chantelois took to Twitter Wednesday to announce he had resigned from the Pride Toronto Board of Directors, adding he now works at Cineplex Media.

But Chantelois’ resignation announcement is in stark contrast to allegations that surfaced in an internal email allegedly sent from Pride Toronto staff to the organization’s board of directors on July 7, which detailed serious accusations about his conduct.

“Over the last eighteen months, the staff of Pride Toronto have regularly experienced intimidation, verbal abuse, manipulation, and deceit, which we have come to accept as core elements of Mathieu’s personality and character,” the email stated.

“We have been subject to racist, sexist and transphobic comments, sexual harassment, and personal attacks.”

Written by Randy McDonald

August 12, 2016 at 4:29 pm

[NEWS] Some Monday links

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  • ABC reports on the Sudanese-Australian basketball players who are transforming the game in Australia.
  • Bloomberg reports on the potentially transformative scope of China’s New Silk Road project.
  • Bloomberg View likes the new Star Trek movie’s shift beyond speciesism.
  • CBC reports on the strength of pro-Trump support among non-voting Amish in Pennsylvania, and looks at a VIA Rail proposal to set up a commuter run in Halifax.
  • Gizmodo reports on Florida’s disastrous coastal algal infestations.
  • The Globe and Mail notes a proposal for Ontario-Michigan cooperation and recounts the story of the construction of the Rideau Canal.
  • The Guardian reports on Catalonia’s swift progress towards a declaration of independence.
  • MacLean’s describes Manitoba’s falling crime rate.
  • Open Democracy wonders about Italy’s Five Star Movement and looks at the newest African-American hashtag movements.

[ISL] “P.E.I. man goes door to door trying to become the next senator”

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The Toronto Star carries this Canadian Press article about one Prince Edward Island man’s efforts to campaign for a seat in the Senate.

Amidst the tourists in shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops strolling among Charlottetown’s heritage homes, Owen Parkhouse stands out in his tan business suit.

On a hot August morning, he is going door to door, campaigning to become Prince Edward Island’s next senator.

While there’s no election for the job, Parkhouse has spent nearly four weeks knocking on doors, confidently asking for signatures to help support his application for the job.

“I thought I’d go door to door and get some sense of the peoples’ reaction to the Senate. A lot of people don’t know what the Senate is all about,” Parkhouse said Tuesday as he knocked on doors near Charlottetown’s downtown waterfront, a few blocks from the spot where the Fathers of Confederation gathered in 1864 to create a new nation.

He has gathered more than 500 signatures to include with an application that must be submitted before the end of the day Thursday.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 5, 2016 at 7:44 pm

[NEWS] Some Friday links

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  • Bloomberg notes the closure of Poland’s frontier with Kaliningrad, looks at how Google is beating out Facebook in helping India get connected to the Internet, notes British arms makers’ efforts to diversify beyond Europe and examines the United Kingdom’s difficult negotiations to get out of the European Union, looks at the problems of investing in Argentina, looks at the complications of Germany’s clean energy policy, observes that the Israeli government gave the schools of ultra-Orthodox Jews the right not to teach math and English, examines the consequences of terrorism on French politics, and examines at length the plight of South Asian migrant workers in the Gulf dependent on their employers.
  • Bloomberg View notes Donald Trump’s bromance with Putin’s Russia, examines Melania Trump’s potential immigrant problems, and is critical of Thailand’s new anti-democratic constitution.
  • CBC looks at how some video stores in Canada are hanging on.
  • The Inter Press Service notes that the Olympic Games marks the end of a decade of megaprojects in Brazil.
  • MacLean’s approves of the eighth and final book in the Harry Potter series.
  • The National Post reports on a Ukrainian proposal to transform Chernobyl into a solar farm, and examines an abandoned plan to use nuclear weapons to unleash Alberta’s oil sands.
  • Open Democracy looks at the relationship between wealth and femicide in India, fears a possible coup in Ukraine, looks at the new relationship between China and Africa, examines the outsized importance of Corbyn to Britain’s Labour Party, and looks how Armenia’s defeat of Azerbaijan has given its veterans outsized power.
  • Universe Today notes proposals for colonizing Mercury, looks at strong support in Hawaii for a new telescope, and examines the progenitor star of SN 1987A.
  • Wired emphasizes the importance of nuclear weapons and deterrence for Donald Trump, and looks at how many cities around the world have transformed their rivers.

[OBSCURA] “Peterborough family bumps into wild Trudeau on hike”

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Verity Stevenson’s Toronto Star article describing how a Peterborough family ran into Justin Trudeau while exploring Québec’s Gatineau Park blew up all over my Facebook wall today.

When a Peterborough family set out on a hike inside Quebec’s Gatineau Park, they didn’t expect to see a cave, let alone a shirtless prime minister popping out of one!

“It was like a 20-foot-wide round hole and Justin (Trudeau) emerged with his family in tow and said, ‘This is the moment of truth; do we stop here or do we carry on?’” said Jim Godby, who was on a five-day camping trip at the park last week with his wife, Arlene, and two kids — Alexander, 13, and Charlotte, 10.

They had decided to go on a hike on one of the trails near their campsite Tuesday and happened upon the Lusk Cave, a marble cave thousands of years old in the centre of the park.

As they went to take a peek inside, Godby heard the familiar voice. That’s when Trudeau, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and two of their children surfaced in what Godby described as a casual chance encounter that humanized the prime minister.

“It was just said with such an enthusiastic, joyful tone that that’s what kind of struck me,” Godby said of Trudeau’s comment, which appeared to be referring to whether the family should continue hiking or not. “He evidently enjoys leading. . . . It seemed pretty characteristic of his personality.”

This is just fun.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 3, 2016 at 11:57 pm


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