- Spacing hosts Cheryl Thompson's article examining Toronto's Caribbean festival as a Bakhtinian organized chaos.
- VICE examines how social housing in Canada will be hard-hit by climate change, including rising temperatures.
- Torontoist shares a sponsored guide to attractions in the Ontario Greenbelt.
- Laura Howells at the Toronto Star notes that if garlic mustard has to be an invasive plant in the forests of Ontario, at least it helps that it is a tasty invader.
- Julien Gignac reports on the mystery of who the artist building shrines at Leslie Spit actually is.
- The New York Times is but one news source to observe the findings of archeologists and geneticists that the Canaanites were not slaughtered. Was the claimed Biblical genocide a matter of thwarted wish-fulfillment?
- At Wired, David Pierce mourns the standalone iPod, an innovative music-changing technology in its time now being phased out.
- Catherine McIntyre at MacLean's describes how birding is becoming hip among young urbanites, in Toronto and across Canada.
- Open Democracy looks at how Estonia is pioneering e-residency and virtual citizenship schemes.
- Crooked Timber links the near-criminal destruction of Grenfell Tower with Thatcherism's deregulations and catastrophes.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes that TRAPPIST-1e is slated to be among the first observational targets of the James Webb Space Telescope.
- Far Outliers shares Edith Durham's account of an exciting St. John's Day in Albania in 1908.
- Language Hat looks at a passage from Turgenev.
- What, the LRB wonders, will Emmanuel Macron do with his crushing victory after the parliamentary elections, too?
- Marginal Revolution wonders to what extent is Germany's support for Nord Stream consistent with Germany's concerns over NATO and Russia.
- Ed Jackson's Spacing Toronto article about the need to preserve queer public history in Toronto is a must-read.
- Torontoist's Alex Yerman notes the new activity of the Jewish left against a conservative establishment.
- Window on Eurasia suggests that modern Russia is repeating the Soviet Union's overmilitarization mistakes, only this time with fewer resources.
- Language Hat reports on the Wenzhounese of Italy.
- Language Log writes about the tones of Cantonese.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money writes about the costs of law school. (They are significant, and escalating hugely.)
- Marginal Revolution reports on the problems facing the Brazilian pension system, perhaps overgenerous for a relatively poor country facing rapid aging.
- Neuroskeptic reports on the latest re: the crisis of scientists not being able to replicate evidence, now even their own work being problematic.
- Personal Reflections considers the questions of how to preserve the dignity of people facing Alzheimer's.
- The Russian Demographics Blog notes a Financial Times article looking at the impact of aging on global real estate.
- Spacing Toronto talks about the campaign to name a school after Jean Earle Geeson, a teacher and activist who helped save Fort York.
- At Wave Without A Shore, C.J. Cherryh shares photos of her goldfish.
- Window on Eurasia notes growing instability in Daghestan, looks at the latest in Georgian historical memory, and shares an article arguing that Putin's actions have worsened Russia's reputation catastrophically.
- Centauri Dreams looks at the SPECULOOS red dwarf observation program.
- The Crux examines VX nerve agent, the chemical apparently used to assassinate the half-brother of North Korea's ruler.
- Dangerous Minds shares photos of the inhabitants of the Tokyo night, like gangsters and prostitutes and drag queens.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money examines Donald Trump's tepid and belated denunciation of anti-Semitism.
- Language Log looks at the story of the Wenzhounese, a Chinese group notable for its diaspora in Italy.
- The LRB Blog looks at the by-elections in the British ridings of Stoke and Copeland and notes the problems of labour.
- The Map Room Blog shares a post-Brexit map of the European Union with an independent Scotland.
- Marginal Revolution reports that a border tax would be a poor idea for the United States and Mexico.
- The NYRB Daily looks at the art of the medieval Tibetan kingdom of Guge.
- Otto Pohl notes the 73rd anniversary of Stalin's deportation of the Chechens and the Ingush.
- Supernova Condensate points out that Venus is actually the most Earth-like planet we know of. Why do we not explore it more?
- Towleroad notes Depeche Mode's denunciation of the alt-right and Richard Spencer.
- Whatever's John Scalzi considers the question of feeling empathy for horrible people.
- Window on Eurasia notes the thousands of Russian citizens involved with ISIS and examines the militarization of Kaliningrad.
- At Apostrophen, 'Nathan Smith writes about the status of his various writing projects.
- Beyond the Beyond's Bruce Sterling links to an article examining pieces of software that have shaped modern music.
- blogTO notes the expansion of the Drake Hotel to a new Junction site. Clearly the Drake is becoming a brand.
- Citizen Science Salon looks at how Internet users can help fight illegal fishing in the Pacific.
- Crooked Timber asks readers for new Doctor Who candidates.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper finding that the presence of Proxima Centauri would not have inhibited planetary formation around Alpha Centauri A and B.
- The LRB Blog notes the growing fear among Muslims in the diaspora.
- The Map Room Blog shares a reimagined map of the Paris metro.
- The Volokh Conspiracy and Towleroad have very different opinions on the nomination of Neil Gorusch to the US Supreme Court.
- Transit Toronto reports on the reopening of the TTC parking lot at Yorkdale.
- Whatever's John Sclazi responds to the past two weeks of Trump-related chaos, and is not impressed.
- Window on Eurasia notes that the Russian Orthodox Church carries itself as an embattled minority because it is one, and looks at the future of Russian federalism in regards to Tatarstan.
CBC News' Taylor Simmons notes that this year marks the 50th anniversary of Kwanzaa.
Zakiya Tafari remembers celebrating his first Kwanzaa over 20 years ago.
"I was introduced to it at a very young age and just found it to be really empowering," he said.
"There are some guiding principles that really help individuals know who we are as individual black people, what are some of the great things that our ancestry came from and what we need to be doing to move that message forward."
He sees that continuation in his 12-year-old daughter. This year, she bought a new dashiki, a colourful African garment, to wear during their Kwanzaa celebration.
"It's really cool to see a kid who grew-up in a different generation from me, who's very much a modern kid ... but she still respects some of her African ancestry and is proud to embrace it."
The centrepiece of Kwanzaa, according to Tafari, is spending time with each other.
The Toronto Star's Aparita Bhandari reports on how a kosher Chinese restaurant in suburban Thornhill does roaring business with a Jewish clientele on Christmas Day.
At first glance, the menu of Golden Chopsticks restaurant doesn’t seem all that remarkable. The long list of items is the same as many Chinese takeout eateries across the city: egg rolls and sweet and sour chicken balls for appetizers, combo specials featuring General Tao chicken and Hunan beef with steamed rice. It’s the big sign on its window proclaiming “We Are Glatt Kosher” that’s unusual.
It’s a Chinese restaurant for Jews who follow a strict kosher diet and its busiest day of the year is Christmas.
Located in a Thornhill strip mall at the corner of Bathurst St. and Steeles Ave., Golden Chopsticks was the first kosher Chinese restaurant in the city when it opened almost 20 years ago.
Rony Gafny, an observant Jew who had never tried Chinese food, wanted to cater to the predominantly Jewish community in the surrounding neighbourhood when he opened the restaurant.
Jewish people eating Chinese food for Christmas is now part of a North American tradition, says Daniel Koren, a former online editor of Canadian Jewish News, and current media co-ordinator for B’nai Brith Canada. He included Golden Chopsticks in his “For Jewish Christmas: The 10 Best Chinese Restaurants in Toronto” roundup for Canadian Jewish News last year.
“Everybody, who’s Jewish, knows the place because it is the only kosher Chinese place. Or it used to be the only one,” he says. Although Toronto doesn’t have much of a kosher foodie scene compared to say New York or Tel Aviv, there’s a definite interest in kosher food in the city — and that’s brought competition.
blogTO's Derek Flack has another photo essay up, this one looking at Toronto's many and changing Chinatowns over the decades.
Toronto's Chinese population was tiny prior to the early 20th century, with roughly 200 residents scattered in various areas, including clusters on Queen East near George St. and Queen West near York St. The burgeoning Queen East chinatown was short-lived, but the one to the west of Yonge would eventually migrate north towards Dundas St. and become the city's first major Chinese community.
By 1910, the Chinese population in Toronto was creeping towards 1,000, and storefronts along Elizabeth St. started to bear Chinese-language signage. This was the same period when Chinese restaurants first opened in the city. The laundries still existed, but the community's business interests diversified as it grew.
Over the next 40 years, the Elizabeth St. Chinatown was a robust and thriving community, housing both the businesses and residences of the city's Chinese population, which was now growing rapidly. It's quite possible that this Chinatown would have remained the primary hub of Chinese culture in Toronto had it not been for the arrival of New City Hall, which expropriated many businesses and knocked out whole streets of the old Ward neighbourhood.
Despite the fact that so many Chinese buisinesses were razed for the construction of Nathan Phillips Square, remaining area residents successfully fought city plans to relocate the community outright. Rising real estate prices, however, led to the gradual shift of Chinese businesses west along Dundas St., which gave rise to one of the main chinatowns that we know today.
The Globe and Mail's Ingrid Peritz touches upon the tensions between Hasidim and non-Hasidim in the Montréal borough of Outremont regarding the management of public space. There are legitimate concerns on both sides, whether the concern of Hasidim that they are being squeezed out or the concern of non-Hasidim that their public space is being taken over. (The Montréal gym whose windows were frosted so as to obscure outsiders' views of exercising women, at the request of Hasidim, is located here.)
A referendum vote in favour of banning new houses of worship on one of Montreal’s most upscale streets has inflamed tensions with the district’s community of Hasidic Jews, fuelling a divisive debate over religious minorities and the sharing of public space.
In a vote that coincides with heightened sensitivity across the continent about the treatment of minorities, residents in the borough of Outremont voted 56 per cent in favour on Sunday of upholding a zoning ban on new temples on Bernard Avenue, one of the well-to-do district’s main commercial arteries.
While the bylaw does not identify a specific religion, it coincides with the rapid expansion of the local Hasidic community, a largely insular, ultra-orthodox group that has grown to about 25 per cent of the population.
Some in the Hasidic community see the vote as push-back against its members. With zoning bans in place on residential streets and other commercial areas in Outremont, Bernard was the last place in the developed part of the borough available to open a synagogue.
[. . .]
The referendum vote is the latest iteration of long-standing strains between the Hasidic Jewish community and the majority in Outremont, home to some of the leading political and cultural figures of Quebec (the borough recently made waves when it renamed Vimy Park after the late premier Jacques Parizeau, a long-time resident). Below the surface, the debate is over the notion of belonging and the stresses of co-habitation in the central Montreal borough of 25,000, where black-garbed Hasidic men are a visible presence. The Hasidic community, bound by deep religious tenets, mostly avoids mixing with those outside its faith.
Spacing Toronto's Arlene Chan profiles the exciting introduction to the public via the Toronto Public Library of an archive of Chinese Canadian history over the past century and more.
On Dominion Day, 1923, Canadians were in a celebratory mood. But those good feelings didn’t extend into any Chinatown. July 1 came to be regarded by the Chinese in Canada as “humiliation day.” The Chinese Immigration Act, known commonly as the Chinese Exclusion Act, banned virtually all Chinese immigration for the next 24 years. It stood as the most severe legislation of the more than a hundred anti-Chinese policies of the day. The successively increased head tax of $50 (1885), $100 (1900), and $500 (1903) failed to deter immigration, as intended, at a time when the vision for the country was a ‘white Canada.’
My mother, Jean Lumb, nee Toy Jin Wong, was three years old on that infamous day, but almost a year would elapse before a government bureaucrat photographed her for this official document. After all, the Chinese Exclusion Act not only halted immigration; it also required that all Chinese, whether born in Canada (as my mother was) or abroad, to register for an identification card within one year of the passage of the new law.
The card looks uninteresting in itself – a document that lived for decades in a shoebox. But in a recent interview for Ming Pao Daily News, a former employee of the now defunct Shing Wah Daily News, once the largest Chinese newspaper in North America, commented that the need to pass on and preserve this history to future generations is more urgent than ever. The connections to our past are fast fading with the loss of our elders.
Such documents will now be shared, thanks to a new initiative of the Toronto Public Library. The mandate of the Chinese Canadian Archive — which will be launched officially at a reception this evening (Tuesday) at the Toronto Reference Library – is to collect, preserve, store, and provide access for researchers and the general public.
“This archival program is a great opportunity to properly accommodate our family’s precious historic material that our children will not want to keep,” says Nelson Wong, whose father, W.C. Wong, was a prominent leader in Chinatown.
Mavis Chu Lew Garland, who grew up in Chinatown, wants others to know that her “half-Chinese family also existed in Toronto.” Garland’s sizeable donation of documents and photos reveals the extent to which her family honoured its Chinese heritage. “The items will now be available to be shared with whoever is interested in the Chinese culture, and in the people who valued them.”
CBC News' Laura Howells reported on the imminent closure of Palestinian diaspora centre Beit Zatoun, displaced by the transformation of Honest Ed's and Mirvish Village.
At Torontoist, Amanda Ghazale Aziz wrote about Beit Zatoun's impact on her own life.
Toronto's rampant development is claiming another casualty this week: community space Beit Zatoun will host its final event on Wednesday.
Tucked away in the Annex neighbourhood, Beit Zatoun has become a hub of social justice and activism in the city.
In its nearly seven years, the Markham street location has hosted more than 1,000 events — everything from poetry readings to film showings, meetings, lectures, art and music.
But like its neighbour, Honest Ed's, Beit Zatoun will soon be demolished to make way for the Mirvish Village development.
"It has blazed a path for the grass roots community," said founder Robert Massoud.
"And now in its leaving, it leaves a hole. And so hopefully people can recognize the need to fill that hole in a different way."
At Torontoist, Amanda Ghazale Aziz wrote about Beit Zatoun's impact on her own life.
Beit Zatoun helped me learn about my maternal family. What I got out of this place were tiny fractions of my heritage that wouldn’t have been recovered by my mother’s memory or a detailed Google search. I knew folks who were in the same boat as me, but it was a matter of finding a physical ground.
A community can work to revive lost histories and traditions, but it’s location that gathers them together.
Over the past seven years, Beit Zatoun—“House of Olive” in Arabic—has hosted over 1,000 events coming from virtually every community making up Toronto and cutting across many dimensions of identity. It worked tirelessly to create a community based on mutual awareness and building solidarity. Only 25 per cent of its events had anything to do with the Middle East and the centre was well-known in left and radical activist movements as much as it was a space for the arts, like the Shab-e She’r poetry nights.
To me, it felt like visiting the home of a relative you hadn’t seen in a decade.
While it took me forever to finally visit, I was welcomed with a quiet hospitality by way of treats when I did make the trek. And every single time after that. In fact, Beit Zatoun events were known for having bread, olive oil, za’atar to dip, coffee with cardamom, and tea with sage adorn the tables for people to consume.
John Lorinc's article in the Friday edition of The Globe and Mail reports on how Toronto's multicultural history can be intriguingly layered.
Growing up in the 1960s in Chinatown in a flat above her parents’ silk shop, Jennie Norman had no idea about the buried history beneath the Toronto Chinese United Church (TCUC), on Chestnut Street south of Dundas, where she and her friends spent their free time at youth groups and fundraising bazaars.
The TCUC congregation, which served older Cantonese-speaking immigrants as well as second- or third-generation Chinese Canadians such as Ms. Norman, operated out of the church between 1955 and 1988, when the building was sold and demolished to make way for a parking lot.
Last year, however, the TCUC’s well-preserved foundations resurfaced during a massive archeological dig on the site, which is slated to become a $500-million provincial courthouse developed by Infrastructure Ontario (IO).
As archeologists have since revealed, the church traces its origins to a tiny wood-frame chapel founded on the site in the 1840s by five African-American men, some refugees from slavery. Named the British Methodist Episcopal Church in 1856 and rebuilt twice, it became the leading place of worship for Toronto’s black community. When the BME’s membership dwindled in the 1950s, the property was sold to the United Church to establish the city’s first Chinese congregation.
The TCUC, recalls Ms. Norman, a 66-year-old retired IT consultant, “certainly was a very important cultural centre for the Chinese population.” But, she adds, “I doubt if anyone in the congregation knew enough about the history.”
The Atlantic's Jonathan Freedland outlines the strong Jewish interests in the music of Leonard Cohen.
Robert Zimmerman became Bob Dylan, Allen Konigsberg became Woody Allen, but Leonard Cohen stayed Leonard Cohen. Coming of age at a time when showbusiness demanded Jews not make their background too obvious, Cohen was happy to be named less like a folk icon than a senior partner in an accountancy firm. It seems an obvious point, but it nods to a larger one that was either overlooked or underplayed in the extensive obituaries that followed Cohen's death last week. Put simply, Cohen was an intensely Jewish artist—along with Philip Roth, perhaps the most deeply Jewish artist of the last century.
Of course, there’s been no shortage of writers or performers with a Jewish sensibility. Allen's earliest films were steeped in Brooklyn shrugs and Manhattan angst, with plenty of Jewish neurotic shtick. Dylan's “Neighbourhood Bully,” telling of a besieged, encircled state of Israel, might be the most AIPAC-friendly song in the rock canon. But the Jewishness of Cohen's work is on an entirely different level.
Sure, he could adopt the requisite shrug of self-deprecation. “I'm the little Jew who wrote the bible,” he sang in “The Future.” And he was finely attuned to the epic forces of 20th-century Jewish history. “Dance Me to the End of Love” was prompted by the knowledge that a string quartet played at the Nazi death camps: “Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin,” Cohen sings. In 1973, he volunteered to fight for Israel during the Yom Kippur war, saying, “I am committed to the survival of the Jewish people.” Told he was more use wielding his voice than a gun, he entertained IDF troops in back-to-back performances. During a 2009 concert in Ramat Gan, he blessed his audiences with the ancient benediction of the Cohanim—the priesthood from which his name is derived.
But none of this is what sets Leonard Cohen apart as a singularly Jewish artist. Rather it's his deep and serious engagement with not only Jewish culture and history, but with Judaism itself.
His new and last album, You Want It Darker, for example, begins with the choir of the Shaar Hashomayim synagogue he grew up in. The chazan, or cantor, of that synagogue sings on the title track, incanting the single word Hineni, a word of tremendous significance for religious Jews. Here I am. It is the answer Abraham, the first Jew, gave when God called out to him, asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac. (The same episode is recalled by Dylan on Highway 61 Revisited.) It’s the reply Moses gives when God speaks to him through the burning bush. It stands as a declaration of submission to divine authority (submission being a frequent Cohen motif). In the song, Cohen follows Hineni with the unambiguous statement, “I'm ready, my Lord”, as if offering himself up for death.
Rosita Boland's interview with some New England Irish-Americans leaves me hoping that these people are not representative of the wider Irish-American community in their knowledge of what Ireland actually is right now.
We in Ireland might think we know who Irish-Americans are. They’re the visitors who arrive each year before the swallows, to travel the country on buses, to golf, to look for their roots. They search out traditional music, castles, scenic countryside, the Book of Kells and something far more abstract: an attempt to connect with their past.
But there are millions of Irish-Americans who never make it to Ireland, whose stories we do not know. Usually only the economically privileged can afford to travel to Ireland. And the sheer volume of people who identify as Irish-American might in any case make it hard for all of them to visit Ireland in their lifetimes.
The US Migration Policy Institute has recorded 39 million people as claiming Irish ancestry. The US Census Bureau data collected in 2011 recorded almost 33.1 million people, or just over 10 per cent of the population, in 2014. The disparity shows how hard it can be to define identity.
In September The Irish Times travelled to Boston, Massachusetts, where 21.5 per cent of the state’s population say that they are of Irish descent. I talked to eight people who claim Irish ancestry but who have never been to Ireland. I wanted to learn why their Irish heritage was so important to them and what their views were on a country they had never been to; how their lives had been shaped by a religion, culture and education that had been handed down.
In the course of these interviews I discovered that when Irish-Americans talk about identifying with the Irish they mean the Irish who came to settle in the United States and their descendants, not those of us living in Ireland. Ireland itself, the country, is the abstract, romanticised receptacle of dreams and green fields, and the place that will soothe a lifelong ache.
Nick Rose's Vice article is a wonderful examination, with many hunger-inducing photos, of how Canadian Chinese food came about and what its genesis means.
Last summer, Elyse Bouvier got into her beat-up Volvo station wagon and drove across Alberta in search of something very personal but very foreign.
It was not any kind of spiritual epiphany or Kerouacian pursuit of freedom. Instead, she ate and took dozens of photos of ginger beef at tiny Chinese restaurants across rural Alberta. Through the lens of her camera, she was trying to capture a cuisine that is ubiquitous and mysterious in Canada, and the trip culminated in an exhibition called Royal Cafe: Chinese-Western in Alberta.
But the journey of reconnecting with Canadian Chinese food is not unique to Bouvier. It’s the same one embarked on by chef Evelyn Wu and professor Lily Cho, each of whom have used their professional lens to better understand the food brought to Canada by Chinese immigrants over a century ago—food that remains a staple of the Canadian diet.
[. . .]
Ginger beef is an iconic Canadian Chinese dish made of battered and deep-fried beef and coated in a thick, dark, sweet, vinegary sauce. It’s the perfect springboard off of which to jump into the murky waters of Canadian Chinese food and its origins.
Ginger beef is indigenous to Alberta but can be found, it’s safe to say, on pretty much any Chinese takeout menu in Canada. But like its American cousin General Tso’s chicken, you’ll have a hard time finding anything resembling ginger beef in China—it doesn’t exist. It is neither Chinese nor Canadian, and yet it is both.
So how can one food occupy such a strange, culturally ambiguous place in Canada? Part of the reason is that Canada was, by all accounts, a very strange and culturally ambiguous place when Chinese immigrants arrived here during the second half of the 19th century. And like a lot dishes, from General Tso’s chicken to poutine, a lot of restaurants claim the inventor’s throne, but there is no definitive evidence to support these claims.
The Toronto Star's Azzura Lalanis reports on the arrival of the Ahmadiyya caliph on a visit to Toronto.
The leader of millions of Ahmadiyya Muslims arrived in the Greater Toronto Area this evening, touching off joyous celebrations among the faithful.
Shouts of “Allahuakbar” — God is Great — rang out in the area known as Peace Village in Vaughan Monday when Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Caliph of the Ahmadiyya community, arrived.
Over 10,000 followers gathered as he began his six-week Canadian tour.
“Today is a very, very important day because I am seeing the Caliph for the first time,” said Waseema Khurran, 36, who was waiting with her 2-year-old son. “I am so happy I cannot describe it.”
The area was decorated festively for the Caliph’s visit. Houses were draped in strings of light and children singing songs to welcome the Caliph wore red and white and waved Canadian flags.
- At Antipope, Charlie Stross imagines what might become possible with cheap heavy spacelift.
- blogTO notes the vandalization of the iconic Toronto sign during Nuit Blanche.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper considering the detectability of interstellar comets.
- Language Log looks at Chinese language transcriptions for Obama, Hillary, and Trump.
- Marginal Revolution looks at impending hard Brexit and notes how the economy of Thailand is dominated by Bangkok.
- The NYRB Daily writes at length about its apparent discovery of the identity of Elena Ferrante.
- Savage Minds shares a Bolivian perspective on Donald Trump.
- Strange Maps shares a list of ten potential Jewish homelands outside of Palestine.
- Window on Eurasia looks at quiet Chechen dissidence and warns about the consequences of Putin's repressions.
- Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell worries about the people soon to be in charge of the United Kingdom's Brexit negotiations.
- D-Brief notes the apparent discovery by Hubble of water plumes from Europa.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper noting different solutions to the mystery of Boyajian's Star.
- Dangerous Minds shares photos of deserted Pripyat in Ukraine.
- Joe. My. God. notes that 80% of Chicago police dashcams were disabled by the police.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money and Noel Maurer respond to the American presidential debate.
- The Planetary Society Blog notes that Europa is crying for exploration.
- pollotenchegg maps electoral polarization in Ukraine in 2004.
- The Russian Demographics Blog notes the official Russian stances on the country's demographic issues.
- The Signal links to the Library of Congress' online collections.
- Torontoist reports on waterfront litter.
- Towleroad shares the complaints of Mykki Blanco that gay hip hop stars are not given a chance for stardom.
- Window on Eurasia notes how the Circassians of Syria are denied a chance to return to their ancestral homeland in Russia.