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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait shares stunning deep-field pictures of intergalactic space.

  • Centauri Dreams shares the second part of Larry Klaes' analysis of Forbidden Planet.

  • D-Brief suggests that controlled kangaroo hunting may be necessary for the ecological health of Australia.

  • Bruce Dorminey notes a new radio telescope in British Columbia that may help solve the mystery of fast radio burst.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes that quasars can irradiate a noteworthy fraction of potentially Earth-like planets.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money comes out against the idea of giving Amazon massive tax breaks for HQ2.

  • The LRB Blog bids a fond farewell to Saturn probe Cassini.

  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper suggesting new ideas--hence, new sources of economic growth--are harder to come by.

  • Maximos62 recounts a quietly chilling trip to East Timor where he discovers a landscape marked by genocide.

  • The New APPS Blog is quite unsurprised by news that Russians may have used Facebook to manipulate the US election.

  • At Out of Ambit, Diane Duane bids a fond farewell to colleague Len Wein.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw does not think Australia is committed enough to affordable housing to solve homelessness Finland-style.

  • Roads and Kingdoms reports from the Suwalki Gap, the thin corridor joining the Baltic States to Poland.

  • Peter Rukavina looks at how a storied land rover was recovered from St. Helena.

  • Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel lists the top six discoveries of Cassini at Saturn.

  • Towleroad notes fundamentally misaimed criticism of new AI that determines sexual orientation from facepics.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at contemporary Russian fears about the power of rising China in Russia's Asian territories.

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  • The Verge notes the Japanese cat island of Ainoshima has a music video in a bid to bring Ed Sheeran to its shores.

  • ABC notes new findings that Tasmanian Aborigines have used fire to manage their island's forests for 41k years.

  • The Independent notes the devastation of Barbuda by Hurricane Irma.

  • CBC looks at the causes of Salt Spring Island's divisions over the issue of becoming a municipality. (The antis won.)

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  • A Hamilton church is digging up hundreds of dead for an old cemetery turned parking lot to make room for condos.

  • A RV fire that left an elderly couple in Victoria homeless highlights the affordable housing crisis there.

  • MacLean's notes how the Royal Canadian Legion is starting to make a new fortune, in eateries and real estate even.

  • Why is the St. Lawrence BIA using security guards to kick homeless people out of a park? (Rhetorical, I know.) NOW Toronto looks.

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  • An unethical Victoria psychologist and his vulnerable patient helped spark the Satanic panic of the 1980s.

  • There seems to be a romance to the life of the lighthouse keepers of Nootka Island.

  • The Icelanders are watching very carefully for signs of the next big volcanic eruption. (Tourists are a concern.)

  • Who can forget all the different Norton anthologies of literature? I still have mine. The National Post remembers in a brief piece.

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  • Bloomberg notes that the Chinese habit of wrapping farmers' fields in plastic has long-term negative consequences.

  • It's difficult not to trace the ability of a man in Vancouver to raise bananas at home to climate change. CBC reports.

  • The Caribbean island of Dominica is set to start to turn to geothermal power for its energy needs. The Inter Press Service reports.

  • Universe Today notes the astrometric data provided by GAIA lets us track stars set for close encounters.

  • The possible discovery of an intermediate-mass black hole very near the Galactic Centre is big in a lot of ways.

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  • If Greyhound pulls out of northern BC, and the rest of rural Canada, what will happen to these regions? CBC reports.

  • The militarized community policing describes in Bloomberg View in New York's famed Hamptons does say something worrisome of psyches.

  • A Bangladeshi observer makes the obvious point over at the Inter Press Service that Myanmar needs to radically change its treatment of the Rohingya.

  • Open Democracy looks at how the miliitarized US-Mexican border harms the Tohono O'odham, divided by said.

  • This Wired interview with Antonio Guillem, the photographer whose images made distracted boyfriend meme, is amazing.

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  • The waters off the Maritimes, it seems, have enjoyed unusually warm temperatures this year. The Globe and Mail reports.

  • What will become of the forest of British Columbia if locals do not protect it from over-logging? National Observer considers.

  • What, exactly, is this mysteriously invisible high-mass body acting as a gravitational lens in intergalactic space? VICE describes the mystery.

  • The Planetary Society Blog, in commemoration of the Voyagers, shares its archived materials on the probes' discoveries, right here.

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  • I really liked this Kerry Gold article in the Globe and Mail showing how the young, priced out of Vancouver, simply went on to remake Port Moody.

  • In the Toronto Star, Edward Keenan describes how the West End Phoenix, a new model of newspaper, is set to develop.

  • Also in the Star, Scott Wheeler describes how Torontonian John Vyga ended up helping take the Berlin Wall down in 1989.

  • Steve Munro takes a look at what the metrics for TTC station cleanliness actually mean. We're doing better than we think.

  • Shawn Micallef wonders why so few Torontonians make a habit of swimming in Lake Ontario.

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  • Peter Geoghegan writes at Open Democracy about the mess that Brexit has made of Ireland, two decades after the Troubles' end.

  • Anthrodendum's Alex Golub notes that a North Korean attack on Guam, among other things, would threaten the Chamorro natives of the island.

  • The Toronto Star carries an excerpt from a book by Mark Dowie looking at how the Haida, of Haida Gwaii, managed to win government recognition of their existence.

  • CBC's Sameer Chhabra explores how Canadian students at Caribbean medical schools find it very difficult to get jobs back home.

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"Yeah, Whatever" is the title track off of Vancouver-based Canadian electronica group Moev's 1988 album "Yeah, Whatever". Produced by the second incarnation of this band, featuring one Dean Russell as vocalist and lyricist, this song deserved wider recognition. Russell's vocals and the guitar-driven lyrics bring to mind a sort of Canadian fusion of Depeche Mode with the Smiths.

Most unfortunately, Moev and Dean Russell never got the chance to break through into the mainstream, Russell dying of HIV/AIDS in 1994 and the band subsequently splintering. What could have been--But at least we have this.
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  • Ars Technica recommends five sights on the British coast to see before they are erased by global warming.

  • This Syracuse.com report about the upstate New York town of Sandy Creek, beset by Lake Ontario flooding, is alarming.

  • VICE's Kate Lunau notes the serious threat posed by sea level rise to coastal Canadian centres, from Halifax to Vancouver.

  • Robinson Meyer in The Atlantic notes that the US South, already badly off, will be hit hard by global warming.

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  • The Globe and Mail's Joanna Slater talks about how the subway system of New York City is staggering from catastrophe to catastrophe.

  • The Globe and Mail's Stephen Quinn argues it is much too late to save Vancouver's Chinatown from radical redevelopment.

  • The Toronto Star's Tess Kalinowski writes about how young buyers are driving a push for laneway housing in Toronto.
  • Bryan Tucker, also in the Toronto Star, also makes the case for laneway housing.

  • The National Post shares a story about an affordable 18th century house on the Québec-Vermont border.

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  • Yahoo News shares the story of a cat that visited every national park in the United States, with photos.

  • CBC's Mike Crawley takes a look at the impact of the Ontario $15 minimum wage, finding it should have little effect on the economy at large.

  • In The Globe and Mail, Tony Keller suggests that Donald Trump's actions do a great job of promoting China as a responsible superpower.

  • CBC notes research suggesting that global warming will make the heat island effect in cities much worse.

  • It is easy, editor David Shribman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes in The Globe and Mail, to mistake Pittsburgh for Paris.

  • The Toronto Star notes Ariana Grande's surprise visit to her fans in hospital before tomorrow benefit concert.

  • The Atlantic reports on the problems of post-Communist gentrification in Moscow.

  • The Georgia Straight shares one Vancouver artist's goodbye to her adopted city, beloved but now too expensive.

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Gary Mason wrote Thursday from Victoria for The Globe and Mail about the Toronto real estate crisis, contrasting the belated responses of Toronto and Ontario unfavourably to those of his province of residence.

Of all the political U-turns B.C. Premier Christy Clark has undertaken in power, perhaps none was as jarring and unexpected as the one she performed on housing.

For most of 2015, and at least half of the following year, the Premier refused to do anything about rapidly escalating house prices in Metro Vancouver. She maintained that bringing in measures to cool the market might hurt the equity in people’s homes. She denied foreign investors had much to do with the fierce escalation in costs, relying on the faulty, self-serving data from a real-estate industry that wanted the sticker-shock insanity to continue.

And there was also the not-insignificant fact that the B.C. treasury was getting fattened on the provincial tax that exists on home sales – easy money that can become like crack to a government.

But then Ms. Clark and her cabinet came to an uncomfortable realization: The growing public outrage over the fact that the middle-class dreams of owning a home were evaporating by the day for many and might cost the government re-election. So the Premier did what she vowed she wouldn’t and brought in a 15-per-cent foreign buyer’s tax that did precisely what it was intended to – put the brakes on the absurd, and immoral, goings-on in the real estate industry.

Unfortunately, by the time she did, it was too late for thousands.
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The Globe and Mail's Dominika Lirette reports on the support of the British Columbian government for funding a study looking into the feasibility of a high-speed rail route connecting Vancouver with Oregon's Portland.

British Columbia’s Transportation Minister says the province supports Washington State’s decision to study the feasibility of a high-speed rail line from Portland to Vancouver.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has allotted $1-million (U.S.) from his 2017-19 state budget to examine the costs and benefits of building a system to carry travellers 400 kilometres an hour with stops in Seattle and Bellingham. A report is due in December.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said it’s “far too premature” to talk about a potential financial commitment to a high-speed rail line, but he said the province is interested in the idea.

“The Premier sent a letter to Governor Inslee recently, extending provincial support for the state of Washington’s decision to actually do some due diligence, some analysis on this proposed high-speed rail link, and we certainly support them doing that,” Mr. Stone said.

He noted that that an agreement signed last year between British Columbia and Washington State, known as the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, highlights transportation as a key priority.

The study will examine the design and cost of a high-speed rail system, the potential demand and whether it would be economically viable. A budget document outlining the study says the high-speed rail system, if built, could connect with east-west routes in the state, as well as a similar system, in California.
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The Globe and Mail features Mike Huber's article suggesting that Trump's existing border controls and the fear of more have triggered an exodus of Silicon Valley talent north, to British Columbia.

British Columbia’s burgeoning tech sector is set to get a big boost from entrepreneurs and their employees fleeing Silicon Valley to dodge U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, industry insiders say.

Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said he spent this weekend conducting more than a dozen client consultations with high-level engineers, managers and PhD or master’s students working in the U.S. tech industry. These prospective clients now want to move to Canada after Mr. Trump’s executive order last Friday blocking entry to citizens from seven Muslim countries, he said.

Mr. Kurland, who publishes the Lexbase newsletter on the Canadian immigration system, said his colleagues across Canada are all reporting similar interest.

“I’ve never seen anything like it from the United States. The last time I saw something like this was 1989 China – where you had top minds and top families seeking exit from the turmoil,” he said. “There’s this sense of fear and anxiety because you don’t know who’s next on [Mr. Trump’s] list.”

Further uncertainty was added Monday after several U.S. news agencies reported that the President had drafted another executive order targeting a special class of temporary work permits that technology companies have relied upon to recruit highly skilled engineers into the United States.
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I have to admit to not being amused, as described by the National Post in the article "An early test of Trump’s ethics pledge: The glittering tower in Vancouver about to open its doors" written for the Washington Post by Drew Harwell, Alan Freeman and Jenny Peng, that Trump Tower in Vancouver is set to open and in so doing open up space for a whole slew of problems for the Trump Administration. I would prefer Canada not get involved at all in the political issues of our southern neighbour.

As President Trump settles into his first week in the White House, the first paying guests will begin checking in tonight into the lavish suites of the Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver, a glass skyscraper developed by the son of one of Malaysia’s wealthiest business executives.

The tower, the first foreign business launch of the Trump brand during the new presidency, is an early test of Trump’s controversial decision to retain ownership of his businesses while promising to combat ethical conflicts by removing himself from the management. It also shows how Trump properties around the world are likely to become focal points for protest or other forms of expressions aimed at the U.S. president and his policies.

Trump and his family do not own the Vancouver project, but the president has a stake in its continued success. The developers have paid Trump’s company for the use of his name while they also pay fees for his company to manage the hotel, according to federal financial disclosures filed by Trump.

Developers say that the hotel, where workers pulled the covers off its imposing “Trump” lettering the day before Friday’s inauguration, has seen an “overwhelming amount of reservations.” Deep-pocketed buyers have also scooped up condos. Buyers include an American tech billionaire who paid $7.6 million for three luxury flats.

To many locals, the building is something of a political symbol. Some, including Vancouver’s mayor, have protested the name that appears in lights above the skyline. Eggs were thrown at a Trump hotel window during the Women’s March there on Saturday that filed past the property.

Trump’s association with overseas hotels was cited in a lawsuit brought this week by ethics experts, who argued that permits or other benefits granted to Trump-branded properties could violate a constitutional ban on foreign government payments to the U.S. president.</blockquote
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At The Globe and Mail, Kerry Gold describes the pressure faced by renters as their long-time landlords sell their properties to others, perhaps less invested in keeping their current renters and more interested in maximizing their profit.

Bob Wilson was an old-school landlord, the kind who’d rather learn how to fix a clogged drain himself than call in a plumber.

The retired firefighter owned and meticulously managed the character three-storey on leafy Barclay Street in Vancouver’s West End for 40 years, until he sold it last year for an offer he couldn’t refuse.

And he did refuse many offers. His love of his tenants, the building and his desire to keep working kept him in the landlord business.

“I am friends with almost all of them – even my new tenants I’d seem to become friends with,” says 80-year-old Mr. Wilson. “A fireman is always helping people, so you can’t change that. I love that stuff, doing them favours if they needed something. It was fantastic for me.”

He worked for 30 years as a firefighter, but he managed several small properties around the city. When he was a teenager, his basketball coach advised him to buy real estate in the West End because it would always be desirable and it had nowhere to grow, surrounded by water and the downtown to the east. His investments earned him a decent income for a lifetime.
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This multiply-authored feature in The Globe and Mail takes a vivid look at the worsening drug problem in the Downtown Eastside in the era of fentanyl and related opiates.

Deirdre is leaning against an alley wall, prepping a needle full of crystal methamphetamine that could be contaminated with fentanyl. She and a friend have paused to cheer as an employee of a nearby needle exchange rushes over to revive an overdosing man.

“Breathe bro, breeeeathe!” another bystander shouts as he gently slaps the man’s blue face while the employee preps oxygen and a syringe of naloxone that can reverse the deadly effects of opioids.

A small team of firefighters and paramedics take over. The first responders believe the man – Justin – is the one they revived in the same spot a day earlier.

Deirdre, who asked that her real name not be used, and her friend prepare their rigs and inject them into their arms, the scene in front of them no deterrent to the risk that could put them on the pavement in need of a similar lifesaving intervention.

It is 11:29 a.m. on a frigid Wednesday morning– the second-last Wednesday of December, when millions of dollars of social-assistance payments flood into the Downtown Eastside, or DTES. For recipients who regularly use drugs, this day – known in the neighbourhood as “Cheque Day,” “Welfare Wednesday” or “Mardi Gras” – dramatically increases their risk of a fatal overdose.

Though much of Canada has felt the effects of the fentanyl-driven overdose crisis, British Columbia has been hardest hit, experiencing more fatal overdoses this year than in three decades of record-keeping. The death toll is expected to climb to more than 800. Two weeks ago, eight overdose deaths were recorded in the Downtown Eastside in a single day.
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The Globe and Mail's Frances Bula looks at how even Vancouver's Downtown Eastside is sharing in the housing construction boom of the wider Vancouver metropolitan area, perhaps at the expense of the deprived people who live in that neighbourhood.

A prominent long-vacant lot on the edge of the Downtown Eastside is about to be developed by the company also building the Trump Tower.

But because of a city zoning policy put in years ago and the developer’s preference for something different, the new building at the rapidly transforming corner of Hastings and Abbott across the street from the Woodward’s project will be a rental.

“It is an important and underutilized corner of the city,” said Phillip Scott, the director of development for Holborn Group. He said rental residential is a good fit for the diversified company, adding that “the larger scale of rental building projects such as this helps to deliver amenities and …sustainable living space.”

The 132-unit building is being designed by architect Gair Williamson, who has done a number of unique projects in the Downtown Eastside, Chinatown and Strathcona, including The Keefer, the Paris Block and the Paris Annex, and projects that combine social and market rentals.

The Holborn lot, which used to house a one-storey building that had a food market in its last incarnation, has sat vacant for years. In the decade since Holborn bought the site, the area has changed dramatically.

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