August 17th, 2010

[PHOTO] Riverdale United Church, 1117 Gerrard Street East

Riverdale United Church (1117 Gerrard Street East) began, Wikipedia says, as Riverdale Methodist Church. Long history notwithstanding, and despite the indications that the chruch is shared with a Chinese-language congregation, it looked abandoned, and indeed, there's a sign to that effect.

We have gone out into the world
where Jesus has called us to go!

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • At Acts of Minor Treason, Andrew Barton writes about the "Kessler syndrome," the possibility that chain reaction collisions of debris in Earth orbit could make orbital space unusable, and the possibility that this might make the Moon a good site for backup communications installations.

  • Centauri Dreams' Paul Gilster shares the news--probably unsurprising, but still--that it looks like brown dwarfs, just like their star siblings, can form planetary systems.

  • Crooked Timber's John Quiggin argues that libertarianism is an ideology that can flourish only when there's an anomalous superabundance of resources (or, at least, resources that can be taken from others without too many complaints).

  • Daniel Drezner has no truck with the people who argue that the Park 51 complex in New York City is being built by terrorists or with those who argue that the opponents would let the terrorists win.

  • Eastern approaches observes that Slovakia, newest and poorest member of the Eurozone, is most unwilling to help subsidize Greece's bailout package.

  • GNXP's Razib Khan argues that genetic testing done on the inhabitants of the Comoros reveals, unlike the absent textual evidence, the history of the islands' settlement from Asia.

  • The Grumpy Sociologist sees the recent press coverage of Taliban atrocities in Afghanistan as constituting an example of how to get a population revved up for war.

  • Language Hat takes a look at a recent book examining how, in the former Soviet Union, at least at the beginning the Soviet government took great care to ensure that every ethnic groups--every one, even the Swedes of Ukraine--got their own districts.

  • Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money is profoundly unconvinced by Jeffrey Goldberg's arguments in favour of a strike on Iranian nuclear installations.

  • At the Power and the Money, Noel Maurer wonders why Canadian cities are so much more high-density than their American (and Mexican) counterparts.

  • At Itching for Eestimaa, Palun describes his visit to the Setu, a Finnic minority on the Estonian-Russian border.

  • The Vanity Press' Chet Scoville makes light of the recent federal government suggestion that high rates of unreported crime mean higher law and order spending is needed since crime is higher.

[LINK] "Crushed ice: The global economic meltdown has left Icelanders reeling"

The Winnipeg Free Press' Bill Redekop has an interesting travelogue describing his visit to Iceland. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the prominent (if absolutely small) migration of Icelanders to Manitoba in the late 19th century helped create an enduring bond between the West Nordic island-state and the Canadian province.

The province has the largest population of Icelandic descendants outside the mother country. And so living in Manitoba, even if you're not Icelandic, and I'm not, you can't help but hear about Iceland through all the festivals, the place names, the cultural associations -- and the chest-pounding by people of Icelandic descent.

So while I was walking past Reykjavic's oldest cemetery on a street called Sudurgata, on my way to an interview, I found myself checking off the surnames on the ancient headstones as I went by, thinking, "I know all these names. I've been seeing these names all my life."

[. . .]

Katie Parsons proves my point that Manitobans feel Icelandic by osmosis. There are an estimated 100,000 or more Manitobans who can trace at least some roots back to Iceland. She isn't one of them. But that didn't stop her from falling in love with the country.

"I had a number of Icelandic friends introduce me to the Sagas (historical prose of early Icelandic history) and show me pictures of Iceland, and, at 16, decided that's where I wanted to go," said Parsons.

So she got a scholarship from the Icelandic government to study the language at the University of Iceland. She then obtained her master's in translation. Today, Katie lives and works in Reykjavik, translating historical, business and natural history texts.

"Living here is the only place I've ever had the comment that, when I say I'm from Winnipeg, people reply, 'Isn't that south of Gimli?'"

[LINK] Three links on population and science fiction

What the subject line says. I've saved some of these blog posts for a while, but I don't think they're stale.

  • At Acts of Minor Treason, Andrew Barton takes issue with the ridiculous populations of the Starcraft universe. Starting from a total population of thirty-two thousand people scattered on three planets, the human population of the Koprulu Sector later multiplied into the billions--in the case of one world, Korhal, the population went from a bit over four million to decimation thanks to a nuclear bombardment to a total population of more than six billion just thirteen years later. All this goes to show that believable details are critical if you're creating a universe, else don't give them.

  • Crooked Timber' Harry Farrell talks about Tasmania, drawing from an earlier Charlie Stross post to argue that in order to retain a certain level of technology, a society has to have a minimum population else it regresses, the case of the isolated and fireless Tasmanian Aborigines being a case in point.

  • At the Long Game, Matt Warren mourns--not without a certain levity--the fact that space colonization, requiring the massive collected efforts that it will certainly need, will not be colonized by cowboys; Firefly will not be realized.