A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘united kingdom

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

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  • Antipope Charlie Stross imagines future directions of evolution.
  • Anthropology.net reports on a reconstruction of the vocal tract of Iceman Otzi.
  • blogTO notes the temporary return of the Dufferin jog owing to construction.
  • Centauri Dreams considers asteroids.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on the expected crash of China’s Tiangong-1 space station.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that San Francisco’s Millennium Tower is sinking into the ground.
  • The LRB Blog notes Brexiteers’ use of the Commonwealth.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at what might be the beginning of culture wars in Mexico.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy talks about the need to make it easier for Americans to move.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Lukashenka wants to “Belarusianize” the clergy of local churches.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • The Big Picture shares photos of motorbike racing in South Africa.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the stellar weather that planets of red dwarf stars might encounter.
  • Dead Things looks at two genetic studies which complicate the narrative of humanity’s spread.
  • Dangerous Minds shares the infamous anti-disco night of 1979 that spelled the end of the genre in North America.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers how one makes a home among strangers.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the UKIP MP claims the sun is responsible for the bulk of the Earth’s tides not the moon, and reports on a Kentucky judge who says gays ruined straight men’s ability to hug.
  • Language Log looks at changing patterns of language usage in Japanese.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money mocks the cosmic perspective of Gary Johnson.
  • The LRB Blog reports from devastated Lesbos.
  • Maximos62 maps the smoke from this year’s Indonesian fires.
  • The NYRB Daily shares vintage photos from mid-1960s Cuba.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on a recent tour of NASA facilities.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on a call for a single Circassian alphabet, suggests a Russian initiative to use sufism to unite Russian Muslims will end badly, and argues that Russian criticism of language policy in post-Soviet countries is linked to geopolitics.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • blogTO notes that a half-million dollars does not buy one much of a house in Toronto.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly celebrates the fifth anniversary of her marriage on the Toronto Islands.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze considers exoplanet fatigue in the news, suggesting Proxima b is about as excited as the media will get.
  • Far Outliers looks at the foreign safety zone set up in Nanjing in 1937 as the Japanese approached.
  • Language Hat considers the globalization of Latin American writers.
  • Language Log examines the linguistics behind “hikikomori”.
  • The LRB Blog looks at the British political spectrum.
  • The Map Room Blog reports on some beautiful letterpress maps.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that in Africa, urbanization is not accompanied by economic growth.
  • The NYRB Daily shares vintage photographs of Syria’s Palmyra.
  • Spacing looks at the examples of the Netherlands.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at a call to create a unified Russian diaspora lobby in the United States and examines ethnic Russian migration from Tuva.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO notes how expensive Toronto’s rental market is.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanet system.
  • Crooked Timber engages with the complexities of racism.
  • The Crux shares some oral history about the detection of the first gravitational wave.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports about the difficulties involved with detecting exoplanets around red dwarfs and describes the discovery of a super-Earth orbiting an orange dwarf in the Pleiades.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that New York City ended free web browsing at browsing stations because people kept looking up porn.
  • Language Log notes that a partially shared script does not make Chinese readable by speakers of Japanese, and vice versa.
  • Marginal Revolution cautions against the idea that Brexit is over.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer talks about the usefulness of counterfactuals, especially good counterfactuals.
  • Torontoist argues that the TTC needs more cats. Why not?
  • The Volokh Conspiracy links to a comparative global study of settlements in occupied territories.
  • Window on Eurasia reports that Google has displaced television as a primary source of news for Russians.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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There were a lot of interesting posts made around the web from Sunday evening on.

  • blogTO takes issue with the poor design of the buildings on Bloor Street West east of Dundas West.
  • Crooked Timber notes the tragedy inherent in the life of Phyllis Schlafly.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that two of the worlds in the TRAPPIST-1 system may have Venus-like environments.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at the fate of Planet Nine at the end of the sun’s life.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at good music from the past.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer has two questions about the SpaceX explosion.
  • Savage Minds has its own blog roundup.
  • Strange Maps considers the Icelandic letter that reached its destination with a map of its destination.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy wonders if people of recent immigrant stock are less nativist.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at school crowding in Dagestan, notes the popularity of Arabic in the highlands, worries about changes to Russian census-taking methodology, and suggests the number of Jews in Russia has been underestimated.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell looks at the demographics of the Brexit referendum.

[ISL] “Scotland enjoys the rebirth of its idyllic island life”

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I am not sure if Kevin McKenna’s article in The Guardian is justified. Can Scots reading this jump in and say this qualified optimism is justifiable?

In those far-flung outposts of Britain’s influence where diplomats circle the Chesterfields of an evening and gossip over brandy, an old story is never far away. It is the story of a meeting – never recorded – that took place between officials of Britain and Norway to discuss the matter of how one might go about depopulating one’s islands. It is whispered that the government of Norway, restored once more following the Nazi occupation of the second world war, approached the UK seeking advice on a robust strategy towards its islands.

Happily for future generations of Norwegians, their postwar government ignored what Britain told them, which was to evacuate the islands on the grounds of cost and security and gradually cause them to run down. Norway’s island communities thrived and became a powerhouse, while Britain’s suffered from a policy that has since been described as one of “benign neglect”. In Scotland, which has 99 populated islands – two-thirds of the UK’s total – it wasn’t until the creation of the Highlands and Islands Development Board in 1965 that its islands began to thrive once more.

Still, the cost of public services in these areas, per head of population, is higher than anywhere else in the UK.

Islands are an economic and administrative nightmare for those countries who were bequeathed them in the Earth’s infant years. So much toil and trouble for so few people: why can’t folk just be sensible and live on the mainland where they can be reached much more cheaply? Don’t they realise how difficult it is to defend these places?

Earlier this month, the tiny Hebridean island of Muck (population: 30) sent out a global appeal via social media for a primary teacher for its seven children. The school’s popular teacher had quit and none of the initial six candidates followed up on their initial interest, as the reality of life on an island without a shop and cut off from the mainland for several months in the year began to dawn on them.

Yet following the Facebook appeal, Highland Council has been swamped with applications from all over the globe for the £35,000 a year post, which brings with it a three-bedroom flat and, in the opinion of the last teacher, Julie Baker, “a short commute and stunning views over the sea to Ardnamurchan Point”. These places might be remote and require small triumphs of human endurance, but people will always want to live in them.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 4, 2016 at 8:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “London’s Subway Now Runs All Night, So Why Doesn’t Yours?”

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Wired‘s Aarian Marshall asks why more cities don’t have all-night transit like London, and provides answers in a nice itemized list.

In London this week, a curious thing happened: A city gave its residents more public transit, not less. Welcome the Night Tube, London’s experiment in living a little. Two lines on the famed Underground are now running 24 hours a day, on Fridays and Saturdays. Two more lines will join the fun in the fall. The city’s transportation authority expects 100,000 extra riders each evening, and estimates the move will boost the local economy by $450 million.

Mobility! Rides home for sleepy workers after the bar closes, rides to work for the midnight shift! Cheesy songs! It’s enough to make any city jealous—not least Boston, which cut its weekend night service this spring, or Washington, DC, which is considering doing the same.

So why can Londoners get nighttime public transit service, and you can’t? Seven reasons.

1. $$$

No matter how sleepless your city is, ridership goes down at night. Fewer paying riders means spending more public money to subsidize each person’s trip. Boston officials said its now-cancelled night service cost $13.38 in subsidies per trip. Regular service? $1.43. Still, lots of important services cost the government serious money (keeping the roads smooth for cars, collecting garbage, healthcare…).

2. Maintenance

Paint chips, metal rusts, and many of America’s major transit systems are aging at a rapid clip. Cities say they need the time off for the maintenance that keeps everything running. (This is especially true on systems like the California Bay Area’s BART, which only has one set of tracks on each route.) Theoretically, the peace and quiet gives workers uninterrupted time to get their trains in order. In practice, though, a four-hour nightly shutdown can get eaten up by logistics, leaving workers with much less time for actual work. New York, which runs subways 24 hours , periodically shuts down sections of track for intensive repairs. It’s like ripping off a band aid.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 2, 2016 at 6:15 pm