a sibilant intake of breath — Milan Ilnyckyj’s blog

Web Name: a sibilant intake of breath — Milan Ilnyckyj’s blog

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a sibilant intake of breath

Teaching in 2022


in Daily updates, Teaching

With my dissertation largely done and PhD funds much depleted, I am taking a final TA job in POL106 “Contemporary Challenges to Democracy: Democracy in the Social Media Age” (Professor Ronald Deibert).

The subject matter is obviously at an introductory level, and it relates to courses where I have been a TA before: POL211 “Intelligence, Disinformation & Deception: Challenges of Global Governance in the Digital Age” (Professors Jon Lindsay and Janice Stein) and ENV381 “Social Media and Environmentalism” (Professor Steve Easterbrook).

Ron Deibert is the founder and director of U of T’s very interesting Citizen Lab, which will add to the interest of the course.

My brother Mica is starting this term as a teacher at the Bodwell High School in North Vancouver, and Sasha is starting his second year at the Chief Jimmy Bruneau Regional High School. It’s neat that we will all be teaching this term.


Arithmetic of power and plutonium


in Books and literature, History, Science, Security

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 sufficient to make a bomb.

Garwin, Richard L. and Charpak, Georges. Megawatts and Megatons: The Future of Nuclear Power and Nuclear Weapons. University of Chicago Press, 2002. p. 33


Renewable energy has drawbacks and environmental consequences


in Economics, Politics, Science, The environment

Renewable energy sources — wind, wave, solar, and the like — are generally the preferred energy sources of environmentalists. At the same time, there is no way to produce energy without some sort of environmental impact, and the more people you need energy for the greater the impact will be.

Some examples of environmental impacts from renewable energy:

Mesmerised brown crabs ‘attracted to’ undersea cablesHow do tides and turbines affect sealife? Fundy study hopes to find out

Nonetheless, unintended side effects of renewable energy sometimes lead environmentalists to oppose it. In my view, they are missing how every energy source will have drawbacks and the question is how they relate to the drawbacks from alternatives, chiefly fossil fuels. Environmentalists can be too easily inclined to become perpetual and reflexive critics, always emphasizing the problems with any course of action and effectively acting as a blockage to any action.


Renewable energy options:

The efficiency of solarEnergy from the oceansSolar panels at 30 metres a minuteQuantity of solar energyGoogle and geothermal in CanadaGeothermal in AlbertaBig potential for offshore windWays to generate electricityGrouse Mountain’s 1.5MW wind turbineThe Desertec solar planPossible doctoral topic: can renewables power the world?Open thread: the cost of renewable energyNew big dams in Canada

Environmentalist / NIMBY opposition to renewable projects:

Renewables, land, and trade-offsArtificial geothermal and earthquakesRejecting solar in CaliforniaThe climate movement and “100% renewables”Keystone XL uncertainty and the environmental movement’s proficiency at saying noOpen thread: British Columbia’s Site C Peace River damSaying no to climate solutionsReading about the resistance dilemma

Energy storage:

Compressed air for mobile energy storagePumped hydroelectric storage in WalesPumped and multi-lagoon tidal systemsProposed pumped hydroelectric storage in AustraliaBatteries for large-scale energy storageOpen thread: energy storage

Transmission and grid interlinkage:

KombiKraftwerkHVDC transmission for renewable energyTomorrow’s electrical generation: distributed or concentrated?Grid technologies to support renewable powerRail electrification and power transmissionA pan-European electricity grid

Demand shaping:

Peak power, storage, and renewablesManaging peak power demandSmart grid skepticism

Politics of renewables:

Google’s commitment to renewablesThe only question on renewables is whenCanada’s new 90% target for non-GHG emitting electricityIncreasing renewable capacity is much harder than increasing energy consumptionA renewable energy plan for the UKRenewables in GermanyHow not to use feed-in tariffsRenewable energy and the budgetResponding to Kenneth Green on renewable energy


Onward toward examiners


in Daily updates, PhD thesis, Writing

A complete dissertation manuscript in LaTeX format is done and in the hands of my committee.

Now, I should get comments from a professor within the department but outside my committee (internal external) and a political scientist from a different university (external external).

Once I address their comments, we can move to the dissertation defence, which my committee is currently expecting in November.


Summer storm


in Daily updates

A summer storm graces all of me
Highway warm sing silent poetry


To do lists telescoping down


in Daily updates, PhD thesis, Writing

Despite still not being at 100% physically or mentally, I am working through a four-step process for getting through all dissertation-related to-do lists, including emails to self, project tracking spreadsheets, and tasks written on physical notecards:

Is there anything essential to successfully defending the dissertation still unfinished?Create final MS Word version for the LaTeX conversion. Accept all tracked changes.Convert Word manuscript into LaTeX, including complete footnotes.Re-write the final ten pages of the conclusion to better serve as a summary of the overall argument and statement about the work’s contribution to the literature.

The target date for the LaTeX version, ready for external examiners, and the new closing pages is the end of August.


Mount Pleasant Cemetery 10/10


in Art, Photo essays, The outdoors, Toronto


Mount Pleasant Cemetery 9/10


in Photo of the day, The outdoors, Toronto


Mount Pleasant Cemetery 8/10


in Photo essays, The outdoors, Toronto


Mount Pleasant Cemetery 7/10


in Photo essays, The outdoors, Toronto


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