A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘zimbabwe

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Oshawa, Chicago, Montréal, London, Bulawayo

  • Rosie Di Manno writes at the Toronto Star about the import of the concert that Sting threw in Oshawa for newly unemployed GM workers there.
  • Chicago is going to house some innovative new public housing designs, combining low-cost homes for access to physically attached libraries and their educational opportunities. WTTW reports.
  • CBC takes a look at the desperate last gap of the Montreal Star, forty years ago.
  • CBC reports on the mass excavation of tens of thousands of bodies, and their study by experts, conducted as part of a program of commuter rail construction at a site in London.
  • Ozy looks at the decline of Bulawayo, the second city of Zimbabwe.

[URBAN NOTE] Five Toronto links: extreme weather, Jodi Emery, Little Jamaica, public art, Mnandi pie

  • Matt Elliott at CBC Toronto asks what, exactly, the City of Toronto is doing to prepare for the increasingly erratic and dangerous weather hitting the city.
  • NOW Toronto reports on how Jodie Emery plans to start expanding her marijuana empire, and her wider influence, after opening a new café in Kensington Market.
  • This NOW Toronto article reporting on some of the restaurants of Little Jamaica, along Eglinton Avenue West, is informative.
  • I honestly have to say that I have taken note of Three Points Make Two Lines, down at Vaughan Road and St. Clair Avenue West. I will. Murray Whyte at the Toronto Star makes the case.
  • Suresh Doss describes the Mnandi pies sold by Evis Chirowamhangu at Wychwood Barns.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • D-Brief notes that the opioid epidemic seems to be hitting baby boomers and millennials worst, of all major American demographics.
  • Hornet Stories shares one timetable for new DC films following Justice League.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a case brought by a Romanian before the European Court of Justice regarding citizenship rights for his American spouse. This could have broad implications for the recognition of same-sex couples across the EU, not just its member-states.
  • Language Hat reports on a journalist’s search for a village in India where Sanskrit, ancient liturgical language of Hinduism, remains the vernacular.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a review of an intriuging new book, Nowherelands, looking at ephemeral countries in the 1840-1975 era.
  • The NYR Daily looks at the textile art of Anni Albers.
  • The Planetary Society Blog explores the navigational skills of the Polynesians, and their reflection in Moana.
  • Roads and Kingdoms reports on the widespread jubilation in Zimbabwe following the overthrow of Mugabe.
  • Rocky Planet notes that Öræfajökull, the largest volcano in Iceland if a hidden one, has been showing worrying signs of potential eruption.
  • Drew Rowsome reports on House Guests, an art installation that has taken over an entire house at Dundas and Ossington.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel looks at the story of how the quantum property of spin was discovered.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests new Russian policies largely excluding non-Russian languages from education are causing significant problems, even ethnic conflict.
  • Arnold Zwicky considers music as a trigger of emotional memory, generally and in his own life.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait looks at the bizarre extrasolar visitor ‘Oumuamua, as does Centauri Dreams, as does Bruce Dorminey. Yes, this long cylindrical extrasolar visitor swinging around the sun on a hyperbolic orbit does evoke classic SF.
  • The Boston Globe’s The Big Picture shares some photos of autumn from around the world.
  • D-Brief examines how artificial intelligences are making their own videos, albeit strange and unsettling ones.
  • Dangerous Minds shares some Alfred Stieglitz photos of Georgia O’Keefe.
  • Daily JSTOR takes a look at the mulberry tree craze in the United States.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining at water delivery to terrestrial planets in other solar systems. Worlds with as little water as Earth are apparently difficult to produce in this model.
  • Hornet Stories profiles the gay destination of Puerto Vallarta, in Mexico.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the new vulnerability of Haitian migrants in the United States.
  • The LRB Blog notes the end of the Mugabe era in Zimbabwe.
  • The NYR Daily features a stellar Elaine Showalter review of a Sylvia Plath exhibition at the Smithsonian National Picture Gallery.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reports on how the production of New England Cheese reflects the modernization of Australian agriculture.
  • Roads and Kingdoms reports on the awkward position of Rohingya refugees in India, in Jammu, at a time when they are facing existential pressures from all sides.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel shares twenty beautiful photos of Mars.
  • Towleroad shares a fun video from Pink, “Beautiful Trauma”, featuring Channing Tatum.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that a Trump executive order threatening sanctuary cities has been overturned in court.
  • Window on Eurasia notes one study claiming that the children of immigrant workers in Russia tend to do better than children of native-born Russians.

[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 Monday links

  • Charley Ross reflects on the story of Carla Vicentini, a Brazilian apparently abducted from New Jersey a decade ago.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog reflects on the concept of anomie.
  • Far Outliers looks at the southwest Pacific campaigns of 1942, and reflects on Australian-American tensions in New Guinea in the Second World War.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reflects briefly on the disaster in Houston.
  • The Map Room Blog links to two interesting longform takes on maps in fantasy.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer considers the extent to which urban policy has contributed to Houston’s issues.
  • Roads and Kingdoms tells the story of a Shabbat celebration in Zimbabwe, and of the country’s Jewish community.
  • Strange Company tells the story of the mysterious disappearance of Lieutenant Paul Byron Whipkey. What was done to him?
  • Unicorn Booty reports on how the Supreme Court of India has found people have a legal right to their orientation.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on the growing number of Russian citizens with Chinese connections.
  • Arnold Zwicky talks about Tom Bianchi’s vintage Fire Island photos.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • Apostrophen’s ‘Nathan Smith talks about his upcoming session at the Naked Heart literary festival here in Toronto.
  • blogTO notes that Metrolinx is set to kill Bombardier’s LRT contract.
  • Centauri Dreams talks about the discovery of planets in the system of HD 87646, one not unlike Alpha Centauri.
  • Dangerous Minds talks about a documentary on skinheads.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to two papers about the discovery of planetary debris in orbit of white dwarfs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper speculating if the primordial atmosphere of Titan was ammonia.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog talks about the vote and immigrants.
  • The LRB Blog notes the worrying state of Brexit rhetoric.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a digital atlas of Mi’kmaq names in Nova Scotia.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at China’s powerful new Long March 5 rocket.
  • Towleroad notes Kim Davis’ large legal bill.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s Orin Kerr supports Hillary, another noting how Utah can save the US from Trump.
  • Window on Eurasia argues Putin’s Russia is more dangerous than the Soviet Union and suggests that the official definition of the Russian nation is brittle.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • blogTO notes that Yonge and Dundas will soon be hosting a Zimbabwean meat pie restaurant.
  • Beyond the Beyond links to a report regretful of past optimisim about geopolitics.
  • Centauri Dreams considers extraterrestrial life and red dwarfs.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at rent in Puerto Rico’s public housing system.
  • pollotenchegg maps economic change in Ukraine.
  • Savage Minds calls for a decolonization of anthropology.
  • Towleroad notes that the roommates of a gay Syrian refugee murdered in Istanbul are also receiving threats.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy wonders what liberals will think of American Jews’ religious freedom when the majority of practising Jews are Orthodox.

[NEWS] Some Wednesday links

  • Bloomberg notes the rise of populism in Mexico, looks at how Europe is losing its reputation as a renewable energy leader, looks at political protest in Zimbabwe, and looks at changing habits of Saudi oil ministers.
  • Bloomberg View notes the politicization of the Israeli army, looks at an effort to smuggle Korean pop culture into North Korea, and considers strategies to encourage Japanese to have more children.
  • The Globe and Mail considers the risky strategy of marijuana growers, who hope to get the government to back down as they do their thing before legalization.
  • MacLean’s notes that the outcry over the shooting of the gorilla in the Cleveland zoo is misconceived, and reports on Kamal al-Solaylee’s book about being brown.
  • NOW Toronto notes that one argument raised against letting permanent residents vote in Toronto is that Donald Trump allegedly has an apartment here. (Wrong, on multiple grounds.)
  • Open Democracy looks at how British authoritarianism is restrained by the European Union.

[LINK] “One of Africa’s Biggest Dams Is Falling Apart”

In The New Yorker, Jacques Leslie examines how the Kariba Dam on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border is one predictable disaster away from collapse.

The new year has not been kind to the hydroelectric-dam industry. On January 11th, the New York Times reported that Mosul Dam, the largest such structure in Iraq, urgently requires maintenance to prevent its collapse, a disaster that could drown as many as five hundred thousand people downstream and leave a million homeless. Four days earlier, the energy minister of Zambia declared that Kariba Dam, which straddles the border between his country and Zimbabwe, holding back the world’s largest reservoir, was in “dire” condition. An unprecedented drought threatens to shut down the dam’s power production, which supplies nearly half the nation’s electricity.

The news comes as more and more of the biggest hydroelectric-dam projects around the world are being cancelled or postponed. In 2014, researchers at Oxford University reviewed the financial performance of two hundred and forty-five dams and concluded that the “construction costs of large dams are too high to yield a positive return.” Other forms of energy generation—wind, solar, and miniature hydropower units that can be installed inside irrigation canals—are becoming competitive, and they cause far less social and environmental damage. And dams are particularly ill-suited to climate change, which simultaneously requires that they be larger (to accommodate the anticipated floods) and smaller (to be cost-effective during the anticipated droughts).

[ . . . Kariba] has been nearly incapacitated by ongoing drought, which has lowered the reservoir’s volume to twelve per cent of its usual capacity. But if the reservoir is refilled, the dam faces the possibility of collapse. It was built in the late nineteen-fifties, and in the years since water flowing through the dam’s six floodgates has carved a three-hundred-foot-deep pit, or plunge pool, at its base. The plunge pool extends to within a hundred and thirty feet of the dam’s foundation; if it reaches the foundation, the dam will collapse. That seems hard to imagine now, with the reservoir at a record-low level. But the Zambezi River Basin, on which the dam sits, is the most susceptible of Africa’s thirteen basins to exceptional droughts and floods, and climate change is intensifying both.

Kariba’s collapse, like Mosul’s, would constitute an epochal event in the history of energy development—the dam industry’s Chernobyl. The ensuing torrent would be four times bigger than the Zambezi’s biggest recorded flood, in 1958, and would release enough water to knock over another major dam three hundred miles downstream, in Mozambique. At least three million people live in the flood’s path; most would die or lose their crops or possessions. About forty per cent of the electricity-generating capacity of twelve southern African nations would be eliminated.

The dam, four hundred and twenty feet tall and nearly two thousand feet wide, was built with financing from the World Bank to provide power for the copper mines of what was then Northern Rhodesia. The designers intended to make the dam impervious to a one-in-ten-thousand-year flood, but their calculations were based on only three decades of Zambezi flow data—a period too short to permit credible forecasting. This flaw became apparent in 1957, when the site, still under construction, was hit with a flood bigger than the designers’ worst-case projection. The planners hurriedly enlarged the spillway, but in 1958 the project was hit by another flood, twice as big as the previous one, so the spillway was expanded again. More recent projections, cited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, indicate that the Zambezi River Basin will experience still drier and more prolonged droughts and even bigger floods in years to come.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 7, 2016 at 3:13 pm