Why Isn’t Canada Part of the United States? A Primer for Americans

Virtually every American I keep in touch with has, at some point, asked me this question. American history classes do a very poor job of explaining how one region of mainland North America colonized by the United Kingdom became one country and the next region over became a different country, and tend to pretend Canada isn’t even on the map most of the time. I certainly faced this question with confusion prior to moving to Canada and being confronted with its reality.

As it happens, though, the events that led to these two settler states to emerge as separate entities are fairly interesting, and tied into the events that started the Thirteen American Colonies thinking of independence. Continue reading “Why Isn’t Canada Part of the United States? A Primer for Americans”

Why Isn’t Canada Part of the United States? A Primer for Americans
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An Atheist Visits Ecclesiax

I received an invitation from one of my partners to attend their Sunday service at Ecclesiax, a church in downtown Ottawa, and out of curiosity, I attended. It was an interesting visit, and I’m glad I added this unusual event to the series of religious presentations I have personally experienced. Like all the others, though, it’s not one I’ll be repeating if I can avoid it.

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An Atheist Visits Ecclesiax

Where are the Caribbean Atolls?

The ring-shaped coral islands called atolls are a defining feature of the South Pacific, put on magnificent display in the recent Disney-Pixar film Moana. Atolls are known for being convenient harbors almost by default, rich habitats for marine life, and the source of the famous stark line between blue-water and green-water regions that surrounds Pacific islands. Atolls are also extraordinarily rare outside of the South Pacific, which is curious, because neither coral nor islands are similarly restricted. Other warm regions should have their own atolls, but they almost always don’t. So the question is…where are the Caribbean atolls?

A ring-shaped island with a shallow lagoon in the interior and deep blue ocean water surrounding. Where visible, the island ring itself is white with greenery.
Atafu Atoll, Tokelau (a dependent territory of New Zealand near Samoa)

It turns out this is a fairly involved question.

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Where are the Caribbean Atolls?

The Eerie Sadness of China’s Paddlefish

China is home to a fish so rare that photographs of living specimens can be counted on two hands. Its lineage is so bizarre that it has only one close relative, found a continent away, and its skeleton straddles the anatomical cues that divide cartilaginous and bony fish. Even within its kin group, its habits and anatomy are unique.

The Chinese paddlefish or báixún, Psephurus gladius, is the only apparent preferential piscivore in the order Acipenseriformes. (The North American paddlefish is a planktivore, and sturgeons prefer shellfish.) Unlike its American sibling, its “paddle” is conical, and it is sometimes termed the “Chinese swordfish,” “white sturgeon,” or “elephant fish.” As an active, predatory schooling fish, it was once known for leaping across the surface of the Yangtze in large numbers. Rumor holds it can exceed seven meters in length and therefore rivals the beluga sturgeon for status as the largest freshwater or anadromous fish on our planet. However, the largest recorded specimen did not exceed a still-impressive four meters. Chances are, no Chinese paddlefish ever will.

CN veterinary imagery

Continue reading “The Eerie Sadness of China’s Paddlefish”

The Eerie Sadness of China’s Paddlefish

Spaghetti with Kiełbasa, Alyssa Style

This one’s a little different.

I grew up in northern New Jersey, the oft-maligned region of an oft-maligned state that has, more-or-less, New York City’s demographics. Centuries of immigration have pressed people from all over the world into this tiny piece of America, and with long shoulder-rubbing comes culinary interchange. When Puerto Ricans, Italians, and Polish people meet, magic happens, and some of that magic is spaghetti with kiełbasa, Alyssa style.

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Spaghetti with Kiełbasa, Alyssa Style

Seven Reasons J. Lee Grady Doesn’t Convince Me There’s A God

A writer for Charisma News wrote a listicle of reasons he believes in, not just a Christian deity, but the one he specifically gleans from his reading of the Bible. Lists like this come in two forms (scientific “mysteries” and trite emotional manipulation), and this one somehow managed to be both of them, which makes it oddly fascinating to deconstruct.

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Seven Reasons J. Lee Grady Doesn’t Convince Me There’s A God

Tortilla de Papa, Alyssa Style

I’ve decided to follow a common request from my readers and share some of my cooking with you all. Ania is by far the better chef between us, as seen on her cooking blog, but I have some skills of my own, and a bank of recipes I save for when Ania is away and I must again cook for myself.

Today’s entry is tortilla de papa, usually known as “Spanish omelette” in English. Understanding what I just wrote there requires a little etymology lesson.

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Tortilla de Papa, Alyssa Style

The Miami Circle, Beimini, and the Ahistorical Weirdness of Modern Tainidad

There is a major historic site in Miami, called the Miami Circle. It is one of the oldest indigenous sites in South Florida, discovered during construction excavations. It is a circle marked with holes that once held 24 poles, suggestive of a clock, and it was found in association with many artifacts attributed to the Tequesta / Tekesta people who once inhabited this region of South Florida. Due to its highly urban location and the controversy surrounding whether it would be preserved as a historic site or built over as part of the property that encompassed it, the circle itself has been left underground and marked with informative placards. I’ve never stood at this site, but I have been on Miami River tours that went past it. Its riverfront location makes it obvious, as the only spot for miles where the buildings don’t edge directly onto the shore, even with the circle itself underground.

Continue reading “The Miami Circle, Beimini, and the Ahistorical Weirdness of Modern Tainidad”

The Miami Circle, Beimini, and the Ahistorical Weirdness of Modern Tainidad

Answering 27 Questions from Raging Bigots, But This Time They Aren’t Christian

Some of the online atheosphere’s most noisome abattoir drippings all got together to lay out some questions they want “SJWs” to answer. (Some other folks addressing their foolishness here and here provide that context without giving them pageviews). Giving serious answers to unserious questions is a hobby of mine, so here are some interesting thoughts for uninteresting drivel.

Basically the original video.
Basically the original video.

Continue reading “Answering 27 Questions from Raging Bigots, But This Time They Aren’t Christian”

Answering 27 Questions from Raging Bigots, But This Time They Aren’t Christian

Énrìçhîñg Your Märks

Those of you who have visited my Spanish-language writing I do not shy away from the diacritical marks that make Spanish function.  Learning how to use them correctly was a major part of coming to grips with my heritage as much as I did in Miami, given how much more effective a communicator I am in writing than in speech.  Leaving aside autistic sentimentality, leaving out diacritical marks in Spanish famously turns ordinary sentences into body-horror gibberish or casual blasphemy, so it’s important for would-be Hispanophone writer to know how to use them.

Mi papá tiene 47 años. = My dad is 47 years old. Mi papa tiene 47 anos. = My potato has 47 assholes. Mi Papa tiene 47 anos. = My Pope has 47 assholes.

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Énrìçhîñg Your Märks