Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Top Ten Books of 2016

These books are, to my way of thinking, the most relevant to my work and were published in the last year (from November 2015 onward)

1 Harcourt, Bernard E. 2015. Exposed: Desire and Disobedience in the Digital Age. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Harcourt's book is absolutely essential for anyone interested in or researching the effects of surveillance and metadata collection on society.

2 Ray, Arthur J.  2016. Aboriginal Rights Claims and the Making and Remaking of History. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Ray looks at Indigenous law and legislation with examples from around the world.

3 Flanery, Patrick. 2016. I Am No One. London: Atlantic.

Flanery's novel of surveillance pushes the limits of a genre in the tradition of Orwell, Kafka, and Mukherjee.

4 Taylor, Charles. 2016. The Language Animal: The Full Shape of Human Linguistic Capacity. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap/Harvard University Press.

Taylor's work has always resonated for me, and inspired ideas about how to write well philosophically.  Philosophy of language is remarkably relevant to counter-mapping as well.

5 Fenge, Terry and Aldrige, Jim. (eds.). 2015. Keeping Promises: The Royal Proclamation of 1763, Aboriginal Rights, and Treaties in Canada. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press.

This edited collection is timely, covering what J.R. Miller called "the single most important document in the history of treaty making in Canada."

6 Milner, Greg. 2016. Pinpoint: How GPS is Changing Our World. London: Granta.

Milner's work of popular science explains GPS with narrative aplomb and scientific rigour.

7 Elkin, Lauren. 2016. Flaneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London. London: Chatto & Windus.

Elkin looks at how we must feminize the ideas of flanerie, psychogeography, and wandering opening a critique of the male-gendered gaze in the field.

8 Pomerantz, Jeffrey. 2015. Metadata. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

What is metadata? Concept and application are explained here both broadly, and in depth.

9 Waldrop, Rosemarie. 2016. Gap Gardening: Selected Poems. New York: New Directions.

A wonderful overview of Waldrop's life-work including a lot of prose poetry and 'spatial' poetry.

10 Devine, T.M. 2016. Independence or Union? Scotland's Past and Scotland's Present. New York and London: Penguin.

Another history of Scotland from the master, with new insight post-referendum (x2).


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Sweep's Ditch, Staines

Though it is not listed on Geonames Sweep's Ditch is mentioned three times on the British History Online site.

I decided to follow this stream because on another occasion I was a bit lost in Staines and in my lostness stumbled across a Heron in a ditch with a fairly large fish in its mouth.  This was a couple hundred metres from the Staines railway station.  


The label for Sweep's Ditch is displayed 
directly to the south of Staines Road,
and to the north of Peyton Hook on the Thames

From that original high point (upstream is central Staines and its High Street, beyond which are the two large rivers famous confluence), I followed the ditch downstream as best I could.  Right at the start I scared up some 6-inch fish, and a whole jumble of smaller sizes swimming in schools through the shallows.  There is lots of cover under the various wetland plants that populate the stream bed.

A local stopped me as I was photographing near her house, asking me if I was from the council.  I said no, but that I am also a local interested in bird, fish, and urban ecology.  This seemed to satisfy here, though I think she still assumed I was from the council, as she proceeded to explain how a factory upstream turns the stream blue sometimes, and how the stream dries out.

Noting my disapproval for the above, I noted the current health of the stream and the size of the fish, and how I had seen a heron with a large fish in its mouth last year at this very point in the stream.  She said, well it doesn't go very far.

It didn't, not on Budebury Road anyway. but to follow this watercourse for its entirety, I was forced to not only discover whole new parts of Staines I had not known about before, but to take a fairly convoluted path, with many backtracks.

GPS track of the Sweep's Ditch survey

Here is a photographic record of just about every sighting of the stream on its way to the Thames, starting from near Staines train station, and ending at Penton Hook Lock.