History

The first episode of Amanda Harvey-Sánchez and Julia DaSilva’s podcast about the Toronto350.org / UofT350.org divestment campaign at the University of Toronto is online. This one features three organizers from the early campaign in 2012: me, Stu Basden, and Monica Resendes.

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One inescapable but confounding element of trying to understand politics, international relations, and history up to the present day is that we don’t have access to what governments are doing in secret. We will need to re-write the history of these times decades from now, if circumstances and freedom of information laws permit historians to […]

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The first pile at Hanford generated 250 million watts—250 megawatts or MW—of thermal power and produced each year about a hundred kilograms of plutonium. A rule of thumb is that a megawatt of fission heat in a natural uranium reactor accompanies the production of about a gram of plutonium-239 per day. About six kilograms were […]

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I watched the four-part Netflix series on the Three Mile Island disaster and found it to be well crafted and emotionally poignant, though only OK as an educational resource on the partial meltdown. My technical complaint is that they explain almost nothing about why the accident happened and exactly what took place while it was […]

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“One profession that is particularly close to my heart, a profession that can get away with nearly anything,” Wagenbreth told his colleagues, “and this group are our dear journalists.” Journalists with a good reputation, he said, had excellent access to officials with security clearances and business executives, and could even travel through the Iron Curtain […]

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I came across an interesting article about the history of polyester, and particularly its rise to dominance with the popularity of sports- and outdoors-wear: With that technology in hand, Patagonia developed a line of base layers that Smith dubbed Capilene to suggest capillary action. In fall 1985, the same season Synchilla hit the market, Capilene […]

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After today’s three presentations on my research — and the surprise discovery of another very pertinent U of T PhD dissertation which I will read tomorrow — I learned that through the library I have access to the Kanopy streaming service and watched the RBG documentary which was the first thing recommended. It’s rightly praised […]

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The British comedic TV series’ Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister — as well as being extremely funny — make some acute and accurate points about politics. One quote from the episode “The Quality of Life” is an arguably cynical, arguably tragically accurate summary of the relationship between civil servants and politicians. Today, while pondering […]

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As I have been writing drafts of my PhD dissertation, I am working in Microsoft Word for the sake of interoperability with committee members, with the intention of submitting the dissertation in LaTeX format after the defence. My footnotes are just unique identifiers to sources listed in my developing public bibliography. In it’s way it […]

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From a social movement perspective, one of the most interesting things about 350.org’s fossil fuel divestment campaign is how they have proliferated the strategy among (often newly formed) independent groups. One mechanism has been written documents. Bill McKibben told me that reading the Carbon Tracker Initiative’s 2011 report “Unburnable Carbon: Are the World’s Financial Markets […]

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