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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘popular literature

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO identifies five fast-changing neighbourhoods.
  • Crooked Timber praises Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze examines the formation of supermassive stars.
  • A Fistful of Euros reflects on global income inequality.
  • Geocurrents examines Russia’s demographic issues.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the head of the Russian Orthodox Church has blamed ISIS on gay pride parades.
  • Language Log looks at how language issues influenced the outcome of Taiwan’s election.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money argues that First Worlders are responsible for poor conditions in Bangladeshi factories.
  • The Map Room examines “persuasive cartography”.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that discrimination hurts economies.
  • Livejournal’s pollotenchegg notes Ukraine’s rapid shifts in natural gas consumption by source country.
  • The Power and the Money considers if the United States might be governed by people who think it a good idea to provoke a war with China.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog links to sources on the Circassian genocide.
  • Strange Maps notes Chinese cartographic propaganda.
  • Transit Toronto favours a partial pedestrianization of King Street.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • blogTO shares photos of Yonge Street going back a century.
  • Centauri Dreams talks about some vintage science fictions set at Alpha Centauri.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes a simulation suggesting that, in solar systems like ours with massive outer gas giants, impacts like those which formed the Moon are common.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes Russia’s interests in roboticizing its military.
  • Far Outliers shares Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan’s concern about the new gatedness of the Internet.
  • Language Log notes the death of John Holm, a linguist who studied creoles.
  • Marginal Revolution notes Sweden’s imposition of border controls.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw speculates about Australia’s prospects in the coming year.
  • Torontoist shares its list of local heroes and villains.

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto Public Library gives commuters a ticket to read”

Jim Coyle’s Toronto Star article is delightful.

Besides being a sweet way to travel, trains are machines made for stories.

The clickety-clack cadence, the lulling sway, the passing landscape of pastoral calm or gritty urban clutter — the factories, apartment blocks, laundry lines and fleeting glimpses of other people’s lives.

A mind in transit is a mind ripe for narrative.

Stephen Leacock knew that, or he wouldn’t have started a story by writing, “It leaves the city every day about five o’clock in the evening, the train for Mariposa.”

Anne Bailey knows it, too.

Bailey is Toronto Public Library’s director of branch libraries. It was her idea to have the library install a book-lending kiosk at Union Station, where there are trainfuls of prospective readers.

“We’re tossing ideas around all the time,” she says of TPL, which watches what other libraries are doing; what banks or airports are trying in an increasingly mobile, self-service world; what other service providers are offering wherever people congregate or pass through in numbers.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 4, 2016 at 4:59 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Antipope Charlie Stross wonders how technologically advanced a civilization could become without literacy.
  • Crooked Timber notes paleocon Peter Hitchens’ take on the history of England.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on the growth of pebble-accreting planetesimals.
  • Geocurrents maps Tokugawa Japan as a multi-state system, perhaps not unlike the contemporary Holy Roman Empire.
  • Inkfish reports on crows given cameras which track their tool use.
  • Language Hat notes some remarkable Gothic graffiti from Crimea.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the very high levels of public debt in Brazil.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog and Window on Eurasia wonder what will happen if Russia’s future turns out not to be Belarus, but Ukraine.
  • Spacing Toronto notes the time the Stanley Cup got stolen.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russians now perceive Ukrainians as separate, looks at the hostile Russian reaction to pan-Turkic nationalism, and notes that the origins of Russia’s Central Asian migrant workers have been changing.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • blogTO notes the TTC’s commitment to imrprove the 501 Queen streetcar.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes one white dwarf that has the debris of a planetary system about it and looks at a brown dwarf with detectable clouds.
  • Far Outliers notes how, in 1988, Armenia-Azerbaijani disputes over Karabakh started destabilizing the entire Soviet Union.
  • Language Hat considers what a language is.
  • Language Log considers the linguistic effect of Reddit.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money mocks George Lucas’ statement comparing his sale of Star Wars to Disney to white slavery.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that Ontario is a very highly indebted subnational jurisdiction indeed, though much of this has to do with the fiscal elements of Canadian federalism.
  • The Planetary Society Blog examines the findings from Ceres.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes the hardening of Europe’s borders.
  • Transit Toronto notes that TTC has its thirteenth new streetcar and reports on the rollout of PRESTO.
  • Towleroad reports on a legal challenge in Hong Kong to that jurisdiction’s ban on same-sex marriage.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the winddown of many of Russia’s business dealings with Central Asia.

[BRIEF NOTE] On thinking about Doris Lessing and prisons on New Year’s Day

I’ve been thinking of Doris Lessing, particularly of her 1985 book of essays, Prisons We Choose to Live Inside. The book version of the CBC’s Massey Lectures from that year, available for listeners at the website of the CBC, , this very good book is Lessing’s attempt to explain why people are willing to behave in ways others would think irrational. What is going on? How can we save ourselves from making these mistakes?

This year I want to extricate myself from my prisons. I’m not sure what there are, where they are, even the extent to which they can be escaped, but I do know that I have allowed myself to be terribly circumscribed. Some of these limits have justifiable reasons, some do not, but–I hope!–most can be escaped. Here’s to doing just that.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 1, 2016 at 11:58 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly asks what readers are reading.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the miraculous way gravitational lensing can refract supernovas.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the compplex HD 100546 system.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at the dinosaurs of ancient South Africa.
  • Geocurrents looks back on the past year.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer considers which Republican presidential candidates might be good drinking partners.
  • Torontoist suggests things to do this New Year’s Eve.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia is even alienating Armenia and notes Russian upset over Turkish support for the Crimean Tatars.

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