A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘spain

[NEWS] Five links about ethnic conflict: language in Canada, wilderness, Catalonia, Czechs on Tibet

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  • CBC notes that major First Nations languages in Canada like Cree and Ojibwe may soon be supported by translators in the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa.
  • Julian Brave NoiseCat at VICE argues against an imagining of wilderness that imagines territories without indigenous peoples. Such too readily can enable abuse of the natural world.
  • Bloomberg notes how the Spanish authorities in Catalonia have overriden local governments and populations by transferring dispute art objects to a different Spanish region. This won’t end well.
  • Transitions Online notes how traditionally strong Czech support for Tibet and Tibetan exiles has been fading in recent years, with China becoming a bigger player.
  • Paul Wells at MacLean’s takes a look at what might be the latest round of the language debate in Montréal. How important are greetings? (I think, for the record, they might be more important than Wells argues.)
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[NEWS] Three links on frontiers: Liberland, Catalonia, West Bank maps

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  • GQ has a terribly unflattering article about the motivations and personalities behind the establishment of Liberland, a libertarian microstate on an island at the frontiers of Serbia and Croatia.
  • This extended examination of the issue of Catalonian separatism in Spain, taking a look at both sides of the conflicts, suggests this conflict may be intractable. The Atlantic has it.
  • Miriam Berger at Wired notes how the profound insufficiency of maps of the Palestinian-occupied areas of the West Bank forces Palestinians to turn to newcomer maps.me.

[NEWS] Five links about communication: Ontario Internet, Mohawk, Tatarstan, Iroquois, Catalonia

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  • TVO notes that slow Internet speeds cause real problems for people in rural Ontario, focusing here on the southwest.
  • Kelly Boutsalis at NOW Toronto reports on new efforts to revive the Mohawk language.
  • At Open Democracy, Bulat Mukhamedzhanov describes how a centralization in power in Russia away from Tatarstan threatens the future of the Tatar language in education.
  • Ainslie Cruickshank reports on what seems to me to be an ill-judged controversy in a Toronto school over a folksong by Iroquois poet E. Pauline Johnson, “Land of the Silver Birch,” calling it racist, over in the Toronto Star.
  • This politico.eu article examining the polarized media landscape in Catalonia, and wider Spain, is disturbing. Is everyone really talking past each other?

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Centauri Dreams takes a look at the exciting early news on potentially habitable nearby exoplanet Ross 128 b.
  • The Crux notes that evidence has been found of Alzheimer-like illness in dolphins. Is this, as the scientists argue, a symptom of a syndrome shared between us, big-brained social species with long post-fertility lifespans?
  • D-Brief takes a look at the idea of contemporary life on Mars hiding away in the icy regolith near the surface.
  • Far Outliers notes one argument that Germany lost the Second World War because of the poor quality of its leaders.
  • Gizmodo notes the incredibly bright event PS1-10adi, two and a half billion light-years away. What is it? No one knows …
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money celebrates the end of the Mugabe dictatorship in Zimbabwe.
  • The Map Room Blog links to some fascinating detailed maps of the outcome of the Australian mail-in vote on marriage equality.
  • Roads and Kingdoms visits rural Mexico after the recent quake.
  • Cheri Lucas Rowlands shares some beautiful photos of fantastical Barcelona.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel notes the insights provided by Pluto’s mysterious cool atmosphere, with its cooling haze, has implications for Earth at a time of global warming.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russia is not going to allow even Tatarstan to include the Tatar language as a mandatory school subject.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes how evidence of exoplanets can be found in a spectrum of Van Maanen’s Star taken in 1917.
  • blogTO notes that Michelle Obama is coming to visit Toronto.
  • Dangerous Minds notes that someone has scanned in the copies of 1980s periodical The Twilight Zone Magazine.
  • D-Brief notes the tens of thousands of genders of fungus.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes a paper calculating circumstellar habitable zones and orbits for planets of binary stars.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas argues it is much too late to retroactively add ethical concerns to new technologies.
  • Language Log notes the struggle of many to pronounce the name of the president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes an alarming increase in mass shootings in the US over the past decades.
  • The LRB Blog argues that a moral panic over “pop-up brothels” helps no one involved.
  • Roads and Kingdoms reports</u. on Zubaida Tariq, the Martha Stewart of Pakistan.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel likes the new Discovery episode. I wonder, though: hasn’t Trek always been a bit science fantasy?
  • Window on Eurasia argues Russian policies which marginalize non-Russian languages in education may produce blowback.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes the import of comet A/2017U1, a potential visitor from another planetary system, while Centauri Dreams also takes a look.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly celebrates Montréal’s Atwater Market, with photos.
  • Bruce Dorminey notes one report that Ceres’ primordial ocean may have mixed with its surface, to make a world covered in salty mud.
  • The Map Room Blog links to an interactive French-language map looking at census data on different neighbourhoods in different cities.
  • The New APPS Blog looks at the changing role of the judiciary as enforcing of order in a privatized world.
  • The NYR Daily wonders if North Korea’s government has firm control over its nuclear weapons, given American issues.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes the expansion of Google Maps to other worlds in our solar system.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer examines the situation facing Catalonia, and Spain, after the UDI.
  • Roads and Kingdoms takes a photographic look at Little Mogadishu, a Somali neighbourhood in Kampala, Uganda.
  • Rocky Planet notes the ongoing risk of a major volcanic eruption at Tinakula, in the Solomon Islands.
  • Understanding Society takes a look at the role and functioning of overlapping social identities.

[URBAN NOTE] On separatism, and on Toronto and Montréal, and Madrid and Barcelona

Catalonia’s declaration of independence today is certainly the sort of event that may have longer-term consequences. Me being a Canadian, I was reminded about something I wrote on Quora about the possible long-term future of Barcelona and Catalonia within Spain. Barcelona may be the capital of Catalonia, but it has also been a traditional economic centre for all of Spain, based on Catalonia’s early industrialization and continued prosperity relative to the rest of the Iberian peninsula. Already, though, there have been signs that some businesses are relocated, CaixaBank for instance moving to adjacent Valencia, one of more than a thousand businesses seeking to preserve their positions within Spain if the split becomes real. If separatism remains a major unsettled force for years, is there a possibility of Barcelona losing this position, perhaps to Madrid, as Montréal likewise lost its position to Toronto in Canada?

Now, even before the rise of Québec nationalism and separatism in the 1960s, Montréal had been declining relative to Toronto. As Jane Jacobs had noted in her provocative 1980 book The Question of Separatism, by the mid-20th century Toronto had been demonstrating greater potential for growth than Montréal, Toronto being part of a wider metropolitan area of prosperous industrial cities that was lacking in a Montréal confined to the island of Montréal and migrants from across Canada making their way to Toronto in volumes that were simply not present in Montréal. The metropolis of a province distinguished from others by its distinctive culture and language, Montréal was becoming a regional centre. The slower pattern of growth in Montréal as compared to Toronto is visible on the below chart.

What is also visible, I think, is how the advent of separatism, raising the possibility that Québec might become a new nation-state independent from Canada, taking its metropolis of Montréal with it, accelerated this divergence. Companies, including financial institutions, which were headquartered in Montréal and of national scope shifted their seats of administration to locations safely within any plausible Canada as quickly as possible. Looking at the skyline of Toronto, for instance, the white marbled-clad tower of First Canadian Place stands out even in the context of the city’s condo boom, in this picture featuring just left of the centre.

Pre-boarding #toronto #torontoislands #skyline #hanlanspointFirst Canadian Place was built to house the bulk of the administration of the Bank of Montreal. A shift west to Toronto may have been inevitable, given Toronto’s growing lead over Montréal, but the prospect of Montréal leaving Canada altogether made it essential for the Bank of Montreal to establish its administration firmly outside of a Québec that might secede at any moment.

The legal headquarters of the Bank of Montreal remains in Montréal, on St. James’ Square.

Bank of Montreal Head Office, nightThe bulk of the activity of this bank, however, remains in the Toronto where it was transplanted to almost four decades ago. The Bank of Montreal was not alone in moving west: other financial institutions, and other companies, also shifted their headquarters and centers of productions to locations more securely located in Canada.

This shift did have a negative effect on Montréal, but the effect was concentrated particularly among the Anglophones of Montréal. Due to a variety of complex historical reasons, including a class structure where Francophones were concentrated more towards the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, the relatively greater concern of Québec’s Francophones with the affairs of their own province rather than with wider English Canada, and the substantial post-Quiet Revolution boom in industry and living standards among Francophones, it’s not clear to me that the decline of Montréal as a Canadian economic centre was much noticed by Francophones in Montréal and Québec. So what if the Bank of Montreal moved the bulk of its activities to Toronto if it was replaced by local businesses? The big entrepreneurial boom of “Quebec Inc” that first became notable in the 1980s was able to fill much of the gap left by departing national businesses in earlier years. If Montréal has become more firmly a regional centre within Canada, or perhaps a national centre for Québec alone, I’m not sure that many in Québec necessarily mind this.

The big problem for Barcelona is that, unlike Montréal and the Francophones of Québec, Barcelona and the Catalans are deeply integrated into the rest of Spain. As best as I can tell, from my reading of secondary sources, ethnic boundaries are less significant in Catalonia and between Catalonia and the rest of Spain than between English and French Canadians. There is little to no equivalent of the language-linked class divide that allowed Francophones to be relatively disinterested in the shift of Canada-focused businesses west to Toronto. If anything, the prosperity of Barcelona and wider Catalonia has been deeply linked to wider Spain. Especially if there are protracted problems–an independence achieved but unrecognized and at least initially outside of the EU? prolonged instability in a Catalonia remaining inside Spain–Barcelona in coming decades may well fare much worse than Montréal did. A firmly Spanish Madrid may well prosper, as might other Spanish cities, but that would be sore comfort.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 27, 2017 at 9:00 pm