A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘politics

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • Centauri Dreams looks at evidence that Ceres’ Occator Crater, an apparent cryovolcano, may have been recently active.
  • Crooked Timber’s John Quiggin wonders what would have happened had Kerensky accepted the German Reichstag’s proposal in 1917.
  • Dangerous Minds looks at some fun that employees at a bookstore in France got up to with book covers.
  • Cody Delistraty describes F. Scott Fitzgerald’s utter failure to fit into Hollywood.
  • A Fistful of Euros hosts Alex Harrowell’s blog post taking a look at recent history from a perspective of rising populism.
  • io9 reports on a proposal from the Chinese city of Lanzhou to set up a water pipeline connecting it to Siberia’s Lake Baikal.
  • Imageo notes a recent expedition by Norwegian scientists aiming at examining the winter ice.
  • Strange Maps links to an amazing graphic mapping the lexical distances between Europe’s languages.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is on the verge of a new era of population decline, and shares a perhaps alarming perspective on the growth of Muslim populations in Russia.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • 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 Monday links

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  • Centauri Dreams reports on asteroid P/2016 G1, a world that, after splitting, is now showing signs of a cometary tail.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers outrage as a sociological phenomenon. What, exactly, does it do? What does it change?
  • Joe. My. God. reports on a new push for same-sex marriage in Germany, coming from the SPD.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines the Alabama government’s disinterest in commemorating the Selma march for freedom.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at Oxford University’s attempt to recruit white British male students.
  • At the NYRB Daily, Masha Gessen warns against falling too readily into the trap of identifying conspiracies in dealing with Trump.
  • pollotenchegg maps the distribution of Muslims in Crimea according to the 1897 Russian census.
  • Savage Minds takes a brief look at ayahuasca, a ritual beverage of Andean indigenous peoples, and looks at how its legality in the United States remains complicated.
  • Elf Sternberg considers the problems of straight men with sex, and argues they might be especially trapped by a culture that makes it difficult for straight men to consider sex as anything but a birthright and an obligation.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers how the complexities of eminent domain might complicate the US-Mexican border wall.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on protests in Russia and argues Belarus is on the verge of something.

[LINK] “Get ready for a Canadian Arctic research boom”

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Meagan Campbell of MacLean’s examines how the Canadian Arctic is on the verge of a boom in scientific exploration.

“The first moment, you don’t even believe it.” Jonathan O’Neil, a geologist at the University of Ottawa, is referring to his research team’s recent discovery of evidence that the oldest known life on Earth may, in fact, be embedded in rocks in Quebec’s far north. “You say, ‘That can’t be.’ So you reanalyze it, and you get the same result. You redo it again, again, again, and you come back with the same results, and you start to believe it.”

The breakthrough, which gained international attention when it was published in the journal Nature in early March, could be one of many discoveries soon to come from the Canadian Arctic. Opening this summer in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, is the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), a Plexiglas, quarter-billion-dollar wonder of the northern world. Firs announced in 2007 under Stephen Harper, the station has so far attracted 200 research applicants from countries as far afield as Argentina, South Korea and Australia, all hoping to explore what lies beneath the tundra.

“They’re lining up at the door,” says David Scott, president of Polar Knowledge Canada, the government agency overseeing the project. “Growth chambers” for cultivating specimens, wet labs with cranes for lifting mammals, a dive centre for filling scuba tanks, triplexes for housing researchers—the station cost eight times more to erect than the Perimeter Institute, a science hub in Waterloo, Ont. One popular research area will be geology, as the Arctic holds rock formations rich with information about climate change and, in the case of the Hudson Bay area where O’Neil did his research, the history of life on Earth. O’Neil dated the fossils of ancient bacteria at 4.3 billion years old (although skeptics say they don’t look a day over three billion), suggesting that life existed before the planet had oxygen or oceans, and that life could just as easily have started in other barren parts of the universe.

Aside from prompting research, CHARS is a chance for Canada to stake its claim to the Arctic. The station is opening in a year when the Arctic Council, which negotiates land rights between eight Arctic countries, is looking for a new chair—the United States will step down in May after holding the position for two years. It also comes just before Canada submits a claim for the Arctic continental shelf in 2018 (competing with Russian and Danish claims). While the Canadian Forces have already boosted their presence with exercises in Nunavut including at Alert, the government will emphasize that “We the North” by opening the all-inclusive station for nerds.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 5, 2017 at 9:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Future Generations Will Foot the Bill for City Council’s Incompetence Today”

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Torontoist features John Parker’s criticism of city council for not properly budgeting expenses in the coming fiscal year.

“What’s a million?” a comment famously attributed to Canadian wartime minister C.D. Howe, is one of those lines so rich in its obvious contempt for the sensibilities of the average taxpayer that it is almost a shame that there is no record that he actually said it.

But we now know that the spirit of that remark lives on in today’s Toronto City Hall. Over the years, $1 million has increased to $2 million. And we now know that this is the premium Toronto City Council submitted for future taxpayers to pay, just so that they could bring down the curtain on a 15-hour day of kicking the same tired old issues around the floor of council on 2017 budget decision day, to the point where someone, in effect, said, “It’s late, we’re all tired, and we want to go home.”

It’s not as if the 2017 budget process hadn’t already gone through a long and detailed series of analytical steps and decision points long before midnight on February 15. There is a budget committee that meets regularly throughout the year. City staff had released their preliminary 2017 numbers before the end of 2016. Community information sessions had been held. Special budget committee meetings had taken place. Recommendations and proposals had been submitted, discussed, and voted on at the Executive Committee. The bulk of about $10.5 billion dollars of tax that supported operating spending in the original proposal had emerged from the process pretty much unscathed. Proposed spending lined up neatly with projected revenues, in accordance with the law that imposes at least that degree of fiscal discipline on every municipal government in the province of Ontario.

As the midnight hour approached, there was just one problem. After taking into account all the recommendations from staff in all departments, and after all the town halls, and after all the committee meetings, and deputations, and proposals, and votes, Toronto City Council decided that the budget they were about to adopt just didn’t provide for the City’s roads to be clean enough. Two million dollars in street sweeping, to be exact, had to be added to the plan. So it was added.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 5, 2017 at 8:15 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • 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.

[LINK] “Charlie Angus launches NDP leadership bid, punk rock style”

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As a long-time NDP voter, I think that Charlie Angus’ candidacy for the NDP leadership, reported here by NOW Toronto‘s Kevin Ritchie, is a very good thing for the party, or at least that it can be.

Punk rock-style swag was on display at the bar as supporters packed the Horseshoe Tavern on Queen West. After short sets by musicians including Jason Collett, Ron Hawkins and rapper Mohammed Ali, Charlie Angus, the 54-year-old MP for Timmins-James Bay, took the stage to Patti Smith’s People Have The Power to make it official. Angus became the second candidate to officially join the NDP leadership race Sunday.

Angus did not spell out any specific policy positions, but emphasized job security, the high cost of post-secondary education and Indigenous issues in a 15-minute speech that echoed the appeals to working-class voters of former Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders.

“We cannot be torn apart my the evil, false, corrosive politics of division,” Angus said. “The new working class is white collar and blue collar.”

Explaining that he spent $160 on a new suit for the occasion, Angus added: “I spent the money because we’re going to bring a little bit of class to politics.”

Angus chose the Horseshoe to launch his campaign, the club at which he saw his first punk show – the Last Pogo ­­– as a teenager in the early 70s. He formed his own band after that, touring and recording seven albums over a 26-year career as the singer of alt-folk band the Grievous Angels, an experience, he says, that sharpened his interest in politics and social change.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 27, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Canada, Politics

Tagged with , , ,