Wednesday Night #1856

Written by  //  October 4, 2017  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Viva Julie Payette! Canada’s new Governor General! A truly amazing woman of multiple talents. It will be fascinating to see what subtle influence she will exert following her speech (without notes!) on Monday. As would be expected,  she enthused about science and making decisions based on data and evidence. She also mentioned climate change, migration and nuclear proliferation as issues of global concern.

Puerto Rico, Catalonia, Las Vegas  – at least Donald Trump knows where two out of three are located, even if he appears to have an affinity only for Vegas.
These three names have knocked North Korea and the Rohingyas of Myanmar off the front pages, along with the Russia probe, the German election results, not even the deliciously ironic news that the IRS awards multimillion-dollar fraud-prevention contract to Equifax — The no-bid contract was issued last week, as the company continued facing fallout from its massive security breach.

In the aftermath of the latest natural disaster, Hurricane Maria, the dire situation in Puerto Rico is above the fold. Donald Trump’s touch-and-go on Tuesday was not an unqualified success. CNN is on the case with a vengeance, starting with Trump’s Puerto Rico event was way worse than his tweets and Politico was close behind, noting that the Consoler-in-Chief brings harsh edge to Puerto Rico trip “after spending much of the past week boasting about a wildly successful response effort that hasn’t matched the reality of the hurricane-ravaged island — and after picking a fight over the weekend with San Juan’s mayor and other “political motivated ingrates” who have questioned the robustness of the federal response.”

Leaving aside the rather churlish remarks of the president, The Washington Post asks  Should they go back? — “Barbuda is a wasteland. Dominica is devastated. Puerto Rico has no power. Hurricanes have come and gone, but the 2017 season has seen a new category of psychic storm.”

One of the better analyses of the Catalonia débacle comes from Reuters: Commentary: Spain’s missteps supercharge the Catalonia crisis
“If Spanish authorities hoped strong-arm tactics against the referendum independence for Catalonia would nip nationalist feeling in the bud, they will almost certainly be proved badly wrong.”

In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre talk of gun control, flickers back on the screen, but The Atlantic sums up the situation with a bleak forecast: Advocates of gun control called for tighter regulations, prompting gun stocks to rise in anticipation of increased demand. Yet if the policy responses to past shootings are any indication, it’s more likely that restrictions on guns will be loosened. A friend in Australia forwarded a piece from part of the Murdoch media empire that is well worth reading, Why Americans will never give up their guns

Cleo Paskal helps us to change the topic:
What is Australia up to?
For at least a decade there has been growing concern in the strategic community inside Australia, and among its allies, that Australia’s economic ties to China could affect it national security and strategic positioning. However, with some exceptions, the Australian political, business and academic communities continue to deepen engagement, seemingly fuelled by the assumption that the West is in decline and China’s economy will grow indefinitely.
AND
she will be giving a talk on Populism and Foreign Policy in India, one of the series Les populismes dans le monde
Wednesday, 18 October, 4-5:30pm Université de Montréal, Pav. Lionel-Groulx, 3200 Jean-Brillant, Carrefour des arts et des sciences C2059

A few weeks ago, Gerald asked WN if anyone knew what the word ‘gerrymander’ meant. Some of us did. Now the U.S. Supreme Court is considering Gill v. Whitford (pdf), a case arising from Wisconsin’s 2010 Republican redistricting efforts, which Democrats say has led to unjustified election success for the right. Not that the decision will have any effect in Canada, but the case is relevant to the effort of Citizens Committee co-chairs Suburban editor-in-chief,  ever-present crusader Beryl Wajsman and former NDG-Lachine MP Marlene Jennings, as well as Snowdon Councillor and Coalition Montreal member Marvin Rotrand and others (with legal counsel our esteemed Wednesday Nighter, Julius Grey) to combat redistricting efforts which would eliminate the provincial riding of Mont Royal. Gerrymandering is not a new phenomenon in Quebec (though we don’t believe there is an OLF-approved term for it) and has contributed to what Peter Trent has long referred to as “the tyranny of the rurality”.

It is the season of Nobel – “… an event that … offers science the same kind of whetted anticipation that’s usually reserved for Oscar or Emmy nominees,” but in
The Absurdity of the Nobel Prizes in Science, Ed Yong argues that “They distort the nature of the scientific enterprise, rewrite its history, and overlook many of its most important contributors.”
The Economist, of course, could not resist a good pun The 2017 Nobels: They come in waves “Since 1985, more than half of the Nobel prizes in physics have been awarded for work done more than two decades previously. But this year’s prize was different. It went to Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne, all of whom were involved in the first-ever detection, just two years ago, of gravitational waves. Their work opens up a new window on the world, writes our science correspondent

For a very necessary change of pace, The Guardian informs us that Pride and Prejudice is getting the virtual-reality treatment. A game inspired by Jane Austen novels takes players back to the Regency era, where gossip is the weapon of choice. “Role-playing is a significant part of the subculture surrounding Jane Austen. As the 2013 film Austenland showed, the novelist’s works have a fanbase that rivals those of Star Trek and Harry Potter. Reading groups the world over celebrate the antiquated anglophilia of the Regency period, costumed balls are thrown and pilgrimages undertaken to Austen’s place of birth in Hampshire.”

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