A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘war

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

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  • James Bow makes the case for inexpensive regional bus transit in southern Ontario, beyond and between the major cities.
  • D-Brief explains why Pluto’s Gate, a poisonous cave of classical Anatolia believed to be a portal to the netherworld, is the way it is.
  • The Dragon’s Tales takes a look at the plethora of initiatives for self-driving cars and the consequences of these for the world.
  • Far Outliers takes a look at how Persia, despite enormous devastation, managed to eventual thrive under the Mongols, even assimilating them.
  • JSTOR Daily notes the connections between North American nuclear tests and the rise of modern environmentalism.
  • Language Hat looks at Linda Watson, a woman on the Isle of Man who has became the hub of a global network of researchers devoted to deciphering unreadable handwriting.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money makes the argument that the Russian hacks were only as effective as they were because of terrible journalism in the United States.
  • The NYR Daily takes a look at an often-overlooked collaboration in the 1960s between New York poet Frank O’Hara and Italian artist Mario Schifano.
  • Towleroad takes a look at out gay pop music star Troye Sivan.
  • Window on Eurasia makes the believable contention that Putin believes in his propaganda, or at least acts as if he does, in Ukraine for instance.
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[BLOG] Some Sunday links

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  • The Buzz, over at the Toronto Public Library, recommends some audiobooks, here.
  • Centauri Dreams features an essay, by Kostas Konstantindis, exploring how near-future technology could be used to explore the oceans of Europa and Enceladus for life.
  • Far Outliers takes a look at the many languages used in Persia circa 500 BCE.
  • Hornet Stories notes that Fox News has retracted a bizarrely homophobic op-ed on the Olympics by one of its executives.
  • JSTOR Daily explores what is really involved in the rumours of J. Edgar Hoover and cross-dressing.
  • Language Hat, in exploring Zadie Smith, happens upon the lovely word “cernuous”.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money links to an article, and starts a discussion, regarding the possibility of a North Korean victory early in the Korean War. What would have happened next?
  • The NYR Daily notes that Donald Trump is helping golf get a horrible reputation.
  • Supernova Condensate examines the science-fiction trope of artificial intelligence being dangerous, and does not find much substance behind the myth. If anything, the direction of the fear should lie in the other direction.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little looks at two books which consider the origins of the Cold War from an international relations perspective. What were the actors trying to achieve?
  • Window on Eurasia makes the argument that the powerful clan structures of post-Soviet Dagestan are not primordial in origin, but rather represent attempts to cope with state failure in that Russian republic.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell looks at the existential problems facing Capita from a Coasian perspective. How is its business model fundamentally broken?
  • Arnold Zwicky, in taking apart an overcorrection, explains the differences between “prone” and “supine.”

[NEWS] Five notes on migration: Asians in the US, Ghana to Libya, Indian women, Brazil, Canada

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  • Noah Smith notes at Bloomberg View that Trump’s bizarre opposition to chain migration would hit (for instance) Asian immigrant communities in the United States quite badly.
  • The Inter Press Service shares one man’s nearly fatal attempt to migrate from his native Ghana through Libya.
  • The Inter Press Service notes a hugely underestimated system of migration within India, that of women moving to their new husbands’ homes.
  • In an extended piece, the Inter Press Service examines how wars and disasters are driving much immigration to Brazil, looking particularly at Haiti and Venezuela as new notable sources.
  • Canada is a noteworthy destination for many immigrants who move here to take part in Canadian sports, including the Olympics. The Mational Post reports.

[NEWS] Seven links on borders: Alberta, BC, Saskatchewan, Ontario, New York, Europe, NAFTA, Colombia

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  • Relations between Alberta and British Columbia, regarding the latter province’s disinterest in hosting a pipeline for Albertan oil, are not good at all. The National Post looks at things.
  • Things aren’t good between Alberta and Saskatchewan, either. The <INational Post imagines what it would be like if there was not just a trade war, but an actual war.
  • Kathleen Wynne warned that, if New York imposed “Buy American” requirements, Ontario would retaliate. The Toronto Star reported.
  • Steel from New York is the first trade item to face retaliatory measures in Ontario, The Globe and Mail noted.
  • A generation after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Europe still shows the marks left by Communism, Leonid Bershidsky notes at Bloomberg View.
  • Will getting rid of the name “NAFTA” really make North American integration less controversial? Global News looks at the idea.
  • Colombia is tightening its border controls to try to deal with the influx from Venezuela, Bloomberg notes.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • Rex at Anthro{dendum} considers Ursula K Le Guin from as an anthropologist by background and interests, and as a denizen of a “Redwood Zone” of western North America with a particular climate.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the exceptional technical progress being made towards the next generation of space telescope technology.
  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of collaborations between Grace Jones and Keith Haring in 1984 and 1986, when Haring painted the star’s body.
  • Gizmodo at io9 shares stunningly detailed photographs of the giant Pi1 Gruis, some 530 light-years away.
  • Hornet Stories shares a letter from the mother of a girl ten years old who describes how this theatre fan was positively affected by the Manhattan production of Kinky Boots.
  • Language Hat shares a Quora answer talking about the way Azerbaijani sounds to speakers of the related Turkish. Much discussion ensues.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money shares the disturbing report that moderate conservative Victor Cha has been rejected as a candidate for US ambassador to South Korea because he warns against war with the North.
  • The Map Room Blog shares disturbing maps showing the extent to which the water reservoirs of Cape Town have been depleted.
  • Non-binary writer Robin Dembroff argues at the NYR Daily that state recognition of non-binary gender identity, while well-meaning, is ultimately less good than the withdrawal of gender identity as a category of state concern.
  • The Planetary Science Blog wonders if space travel and space science, of the sort favoured by Society president Bill Nye, could become a bipartisan issue uniting Americans.
  • Seriously Science notes that at least some species of birds prefer to date before they pair-bond and have children.
  • Towleroad reports that The Gangway, oldest surviving gay bar in San Francisco, has shut down to make way for a new laundromat/movie theatre.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little considers the factors that lead the people in charge of industries facing decline to ignore this. Could the education sector be one of these, too, depending on future change?

[BRIEF NOTE] On how the Hawaii missile scare shows how we know the old fears are back again

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On the 13th of January, 2018, when the world learned of an official warning of an impending ballistic missile attack on the state of Hawaii, I was in the American Museum of Natural History with friends. Scott mentioned the warning and flashed me a screen of the screenshotted image of the message from Twitter. I felt stunned. Certainly I’d not been aware of any catastrophic worsening of the United States’ relations with North Korea or anyone else, so this couldn’t be true. But then, this was a wholly unprecedented event in any case, something no one on this world had any experience with. Who was I to say that this might not be the first I’d learn of another world-changing event in my life? I hoped only that the people I knew and love in Hawaii would be safe.

Thank God that this was simply a false alarm, consequence of an appalling badly designed user interface that does not clearly distinguish between different options for issuing state-wide alerts and consequence of the state governor’s unconscionable ignorance of his Twitter password to let the world know of the false alarm. (It does not take 20 minutes to reset a password, at least not on any system I’m familiar with.) It goes without saying that, beyond being a terrifying experience for people in Hawaii and decidedly unsettling for the rest of the population of the world, this sort of alert has potentially catastrophic consequences. What if this false alarm was seized upon as justification for some response? That so much of the world lacks even Hawaii’s flawed preparedness, meanwhile, is worrisome. Mack Lamoureaux’s suggestion at VICE that the first warning Canadians would learn of a missile attack would be fro the nuclear shockwave, unless they signed up for text message warnings which are (first) voluntary only and (second) distributed through an ad hoc combination of ministries and telecom providers is–Well.

One element of the affair that interests me hugely, from a sociological perspective, is the way people in Hawaii dealt with the alert of their potential imminent doom. I may have missed reports between my New York City vacation and the hindrances of later retrospective news searched, but I do not think any of the violence that apocalyptic media tends to predict will occur in these circumstances–looting, violence, riots–actually did. Perhaps it might have if there have been a longer period of more severe tension, but I frankly doubt it. What we did see was people doing their best to try to do as much as they could with the remainder of their lives, to find explanations for what was happening and to share them, to seek shelter, to tell the people they cared for that they cared for them. People tried to protect themselves and others, and, where they thought they might not be able to, they tried to let their likely survivors know just how much they mattered. I think this speaks well of humanity, honestly–if this was a test, we passed.

This brought to my mind Ultravox’s 1984 single “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes”, sung from the perspective of a man desperate to get home to his family before the predicted nuclear apocalypse came about.

This song is ostensibly about a nuclear plant meltdown, not a nuclear attack. This song was also sung in the 1980s, released in the same year as (for instance) the BBC’s post-nuclear apocalypse Threads (now on Blu-Ray!). Especially two years before Chernobyl and at the arguable height of the post-détente Cold War, nuclear apocalypse most certainly did include fears of warheads going. Its inclusion on Wikipedia’s long list of song’s dealing with nuclear war, a noteworthy trend in the 1980s’ popular culture–that decade’s sheer density ofsongs dealing with the nuclear apocalypse is something I’ve noted for decades.

That moment when I made the connection between Hawaii now and Ultravox then is when it hit me: We’re back in touch with that 1980s mindset. The adulthood I’ve enjoyed free from fears of nuclear war, free from the contamination it inflicted on earlier generations and even on my childhood, is over. We feel the same threats the 1980s’ generations did; we respond in the same ways, largely irrelevant details like the communications technologies we have aside. (I doubt a false alert of a missile attack on Hawaiian television in the 1980s would have differed that much.) The idyll I, and most of the rest of the world’s population, enjoyed for decades is done with.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 27, 2018 at 11:59 pm

[PHOTO] Eight photos of the Kurdish march on Yonge, Toronto, against Turkey in Afrin (#defendafrin)

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The ongoing Turkish invasion of Afrin, westernmost of the three cantons of the autonomous Kurdish area in Syria commonly known as Rojava, just produced visible results in Toronto. As I got out at Wellesley station a bit before 6 o’clock, I heard a crowd marching down Yonge. I crossed the street, and prepared to photograph.

I was given a handout with the letterhead of the Democratic Kurdish Federation of Canada denouncing the inaction of outside powers–the West and Russia, specifically–in doing nothing to undermine the Turkish invasion of a self-governing Kurdish area. I accepted the handout, and kept it. I agree almost entirely with the sentiment, sharing the anger of people frustrated with yet another Turkish invasion of a self-governing Kurdish area outside its frontiers, feeling frustrated that a Turkish-Kurdish alliance once might think the most natural one possible in the MIddle East is being thwarted by Turkey run by people who betrayed their government’s liberal promise at the century’s beginning. I stood, and watched, because there was nothing else I could do but witness justified anger and share it.

(Certainly this group has links with radical Kurdish groups internationally. The last photo in this series shows a yellow flag flapped into a blur by the wind. When unfurled, the flag had on it a clear portrait of Abdullah Öcalan above a slogan demanding his release.)

Protest against Turkey in Syria (1) #toronto #protest #march #kurdish #kurd #turkey #syria #rojava #afrin #night

Protest against Turkey in Syria (2) #toronto #protest #march #kurdish #kurd #turkey #syria #rojava #afrin #night

Protest against Turkey in Syria (4) #toronto #protest #march #kurdish #flyer #pamphlet #kurd #turkey #syria #rojava #afrin #night #yongeandwellesley

Protest against Turkey in Syria (5) #toronto #protest #march #kurdish #flyer #pamphlet #kurd #turkey #syria #rojava #afrin #night #yongeandwellesley

Protest against Turkey in Syria (6) #toronto #protest #march #kurdish #pamphlet #kurd #turkey #syria #rojava #afrin #night #yongeandwellesley

Protest against Turkey in Syria (7) #toronto #protest #march #kurdish #flags #kurd #turkey #syria #rojava #afrin #night #yongeandwellesley

Protest against Turkey in Syria (8) #toronto #protest #march #kurdish #flags #kurd #turkey #syria #rojava #afrin #night #yongeandwellesley

Protest against Turkey in Syria (9) #toronto #protest #march #kurdish #flags #kurd #turkey #syria #rojava #afrin #night #yongeandwellesley

Written by Randy McDonald

January 27, 2018 at 8:00 pm