November 29th, 2010

[BLOG] Some Monday links


  • At Beyond the Beyond, Bruce Sterling is impressed by outgoing Brazilian president Lula's interviews with leading Brazilian bloggers.

  • James Bow mourns the passing of George Robitaille, the TTC employee photographed sleeping on the job. Making note of his medical conditions, Bow wonders about the Internet's ability to mobilize people for anything.

  • Centauri Dreams examines how a team of Italian researchers have come up with a deep-space navigation system that makes use of the radio signals of pulsars to guide the craft.

  • Daniel Drezner isn't happy with the increasingly untenable situation re: North Korea. What to do with that? Separate issue.

  • At Halfway Down the Danube, Douglas Muir notes how Zambia was so much less marked by the massive Shaka-era population movements in southern Africa, and how the colonial-era concentration of the Zambian population has the salutary effect of giving most people direct access to markets and transportation.

  • Language Log's Mark Liberman reports on the controversy surrounding the Royal Spanish Academy's language reforms, apparently including the abolition of two letters. (Hispanophones?)

  • "Are video games art?" Matt Warren wonders. "Not yet," he concludes.

  • Gideon Rachman is unimpressed by the contents of the latest revealed Wikileaks cables, noting that they mainly confirm established wisdom. Daniel Drezner is of much the same opinion.

  • At The Zeds, Michael Steeleworthy defends Google Scholar as a valid research tool, as a good first step if nothing else.

[DM] "'Pure' north, 'impure' south: Cause for conflict in Korea?

I've a post up at Demography Matters that speculates on a possible if secondary reason for the North's hostility towards South Korea. North Korea's leadership is so concerned with ethnic purity that it's policy for its security guard to kick North Korean women pregnant by Chinese fathers into miscarriages; South Korea's government, in contrast, is actively encouraging the integration of immigrants and children born to foreign-born mothers into an increasingly cosmopolitan population. Might the North be unhappy with this?

Go, read.

[H&F] The final bit of Kaarlo Kurko's experiences, and, more on baseball and history

Two of my co-bloggers have made posts to History and Futility today.

  • Jussi Jalonen, in his Kaarlo Kurko; the victory, the downfall and the aftermath", describes how Kurko became disaffected with Belarusian nationalists, came to embrace Poland, left Finland after he was kept from the ranks of the Finnish officer corps to join the French Foreign legion, and eventually became a popular writer, dying in 1989 just as communism was ending. It's an interesting end to the story of a creative and bloody-minded man.

  • The Oberamtmann, meanwhile, in his "Baseball and History: Narratives, Part Three", writes about how baseball plays a central role in American culture, a source of clichés and a bellweather for major social changes (Jackie Robinson's joining the major leagues indicating the decline of racial segregation, for instance). This last point leads to one interesting question: can the great players of the segregation-era major leagues, by virtue of not having played against African-American players, really be said to have been great? Another interesting question: why haven't the Negro Leagues gained more recognition?


  • Go, read.