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  • The Big Picture shares shocking photos of the Portuguese forest fires.

  • blogTO notes that, happily, Seaton Village's Fiesta Farms is apparently not at risk of being turned into a condo development site.

  • Centauri Dreams notes a new starship discussion group in Delft. Shades of the British Interplanetary Society and the Daedalus?

  • D-Brief considers a new theory explaining why different birds' eggs have different shapes.

  • The Frailest Thing's Michael Sacasas commits himself to a new regimen of blogging about technology and its imports. (There is a Patreon.)

  • Language Hat notes the current Turkish government's interest in purging Turkish of Western loanwords.

  • Language Log's Victor Mair sums up the evidence for the diffusion of Indo-European languages, and their speakers, into India.

  • The LRB Blog notes the Theresa May government's inability post-Grenfell to communicate with any sense of emotion.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen wonders if the alt-right more prominent in the Anglophone world because it is more prone to the appeal of the new.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw wonders if Brexit will result in a stronger European Union and a weaker United Kingdom.

  • Seriously Science reports a study suggesting that shiny new headphones are not better than less flashy brands.

  • Torontoist reports on the anti-Muslim hate groups set to march in Toronto Pride.

  • Understanding Society considers the subject of critical realism in sociological analyses.

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Russia's call to promote Cyrillic across the former Soviet Union has gone badly in Armenia, with its own script.

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  • 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.

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  • The Independent suggests that potentially flammable cladding was mounted on London's Grenfell Tower so as to make it look nicer for richer neighbours. If the lives of the poor were put at risk of burning to make richer neighbours happy ... Wow.

  • Adam Rogers at Wired describes the many complexities regarding fighting high-rise fires and evacuating their inhabitants.

  • CBC suggests that local building codes in Canada are sufficiently stringent to prevent a repetition of the Grenfell Tower tragedy here. One hopes.

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  • The Globe and Mail describes how the flooding of Lake Ontario is starting to impact buildings built near the waterfront on the mainland, like some of Toronto's new condos.

  • All of Toronto's beaches will be, CBC reports, at least partly closed on account of the flooding.

  • Lucas Powers' photo essay at CBC tracks the impact of flooding on the Toronto Islands.

  • Steve Munro continues his study of buses on Queen Street, noting that the frequency of buses needs to be increased to keep pace with streetcars.

  • Edward Keenan argues in the Toronto Star that Michael Ford's call for a study for Queen Street transit will reveal that streetcars are the better way.

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  • Peter Goffin reports from the hauntingly empty Toronto Islands during their time of flood.

  • Edward Keenan, also in the Star mourns for Torontonians who will spend most of the summer, at least, without having the Islands.

  • Alison Gzowski, a resident of the Toronto Islands, writes for The Globe and Mail about how the flooding reminds her of nature's power.

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  • The Globe and Mail examined the unique real estate market on the Toronto Islands, with lower places but also restrictions on buyers.

  • The Toronto Star reported that carp have taken over the baseball field at Gibraltar Point.

  • The Toronto Star reports on a peacock that has escaped Centreville Farm to become the islands' mascot.

  • The National Post reported on how the Toronto Islands' businesses have all been shut down by the flooding.

  • blogTO noted that Water Taxi Now is offering tours of the flooded islands.

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Rosie DiManno's long-form article "’I’m getting burned!’ Slaying the beast that was the Badminton and Racquet Club fire" examines just what happened at the recent devastating fire at Yonge and St. Clair, in detail.

Fire and water: The crisis and the cure.

But it took 20 hours of steadfastly blasting the latter to extinguish the roiling conflagration of the former last week at the Badminton and Racquet Club of Toronto.

Bringing the blaze to heel — preventing it from leaping to condos and businesses on the four corners of St. Clair Ave. and Yonge St. — required a collective yeoman effort over three days: 520 firefighters, 167 fire engines, pumpers and three tower trucks with articulating booms, hazardous materials unit, dozens of hoses pumping simultaneously, an excavator and countless air cylinders consumed.

And still, days later, small spot fires continued sparking back to life.

A tall chore, killing a fire; throttling it.
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The Toronto Star reports on one strongly negative element from the fire two days ago at Yonge and St. Clair of the Badminton & Racquet Club: It deprived many stores in the area of much-needed business on Valentine's Day.

It was a rotten Valentine’s Day for many businesses near a blaze that devoured a building in midtown Toronto.

Especially hard hit were the flower and card shops that rely on sales from the holiday.

“Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and I’m a greeting card store, so you can only imagine that it definitely hit us hard,” said The Papery owner Marla Freedland, whose business sells cards and stationery.

The six-alarm blaze, which ignited Tuesday morning, tore through the historic Badminton and Racquet Club of Toronto until firefighters contained it in the evening. They stayed on-scene all night, and the fire was under control as of 5:45 a.m., said Chief Matthew Pegg of Toronto Fire Services.

“The two days of Valentine’s Day take care of the month of February. It’s not quite like Christmas, but for two days it’s like that,” she said of February 13 and 14.

Her business, at St. Clair and Yonge St. was closed at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, and didn’t reopen until 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
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The Globe and Mail's Dakshana Bascaramurty reports about a devastating fire at the Badminton and Racquet Club here in Toronto, just west of Yonge and St. Clair. The pillars of smoke are rising, and transit links at St. Clair station have been cut off.

A massive six-alarm fire has caused serious damage to a 93-year-old members-only racquet club in midtown Toronto and has now spread to an adjacent building to the north.

Toronto Fire says The Badminton and Racquet Club at 25 St. Clair Ave. West and neighbouring buildings have been evacuated and there are no reported injuries. Of the approximately 160 firefighters on the scene, one captain was separated from his team and injured on site but has since been rescued and was treated by paramedics, said Capt. David Eckerman.

Capt. Eckerman says they received a call for a fire from occupants fleeing the club around 9:20 a.m.

By the time firefighters arrived, fire had ripped through the roof, the south part of which has since collapsed. The intersection of Yonge and St. Clair has been closed. The St. Clair subway station has been evacuated and subway trains, streetcars and buses that pass through the intersection have been diverted, according to the TTC.

Capt. Eckerman said the south and east walls have partly caved in and could collapse. The north wall is also “spongey,” he said.
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  • blogTO reports on the history of Toronto's Wellington Street.

  • Dangerous Minds introduces me to the grim American gothic that is Wisconsin Death Trip. What happened to Black River Falls in the 1890s?

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to hypotheses about KIC 8462852, one suggesting KIC 8462852 has four exoplanets, another talking about a planet's disintegration.

  • The Dragon's Tales links to a paper modeling the mantles of icy moons.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at small city NIMBYism in the Oregon city of Eugene.

  • The LRB Blog reports on toxically racist misogyny directed towards Labour's Diane Abbott by Tory minister David Davis, "misogynoir" as it is called.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw reports on the elections in Indonesia, a country increasingly important to Australia.

  • Peter Rukavina describes how the builders of his various indie phones, promising in their own rights, keep dropping them.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer is optimistic that NAFTA will survive mostly as is.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy examines the ruling against Trump's immigration order on the grounds that its planners explicitly designed it as an anti-Muslim ban.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the treaty-based federalism of Tatarstan within Russia is increasingly unpopular with many wanting a more centralized country.

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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly writes about the need for opponents of Trump to fight, not just the man but the root causes.

  • Centauri Dreams notes a study suggesting Proxima Centauri is gravitationally bound to Alpha Centauri A and B.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos depicting the devastation of Gatlinburg by fire.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes that stars with close-orbiting rocky worlds seem to have above-solar metallicity, and considers the albedos of exoplanets.

  • Far Outliers looks at how Poland's Communist government tried to undermine Pope John Paul II in 1979.

  • Joe. My. God. notes a lawsuit lodged against the American government demanding the release of information regarding the Russian information hack.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes poor working conditions in Bangladesh.

  • Marginal Revolution notes a Yoruba tongue twister.

  • The Planetary Society Blog links to China's planned program of space exploration.

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CBC News' Lauren Pelley reports on one proposed solution to the emergency situation of homelessness in winter that, frankly, Toronto should have embraced earlier.

Freezing temperatures and over-capacity shelters have led to a push from housing advocates to open Toronto's two armouries for emergency use by the city's homeless community.

So far, more than 1,300 people have signed a petition launched by street nurse and activist Cathy Crowe, calling on Mayor John Tory to request use of the two armouries at Fort York and Moss Park from the Minister of National Defence,

"I am shocked by the level of crowding in both the shelter system, the Out of the Cold program...The warming centres are no longer enough to meet the need," Crowe wrote in a letter to Tory.

Speaking to CBC Toronto on Sunday, she also said dozens of beds have been lost at Seaton House, Toronto's largest homeless shelter, due to a serious Strep A outbreak.

"We do not have the shelter spaces or capacity to support the people who need them right now," echoed Joe Cressy, city councilor for Ward 20.
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blogTO's Phil Villeneuve writes about the future of the warehouse party in Toronto, in the wake of the Oakland Ghost Ship catastrophe. Is Toronto in line for a similar disaster?

Mario Angelucci, Acting Chief Building Official for the city of Toronto says warehouse parties in the city are mostly legal, as long as they adhere to Ontario Fire Codes.

"When events are proposed in warehouses, the City reviews the proposal to ensure the buildings meet all of the fire and life safety requirements." Angelucci explains.

"These requirements include... exits, emergency lighting, early warning systems, smoke control measures, and fire and life safety plans," he says. These are tools to get people out of the building safely in case of emergency.

Angelucci says often temporary measures to ensure life safety are put in place or one-off events in warehouses, which are treated with the same diligence as any event in a non-traditional space.

They have alternatives to help organizers install things to make sure people are safe the night of the event.
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Writing for NBC News, Mary Emily O'Hara looks at the queer casualties of the Oakland Ghost Ship disaster.

The fire at an Oakland artists' warehouse on Friday night was so devastating, officials said the current death toll of 36 people comes after only 70 percent of the building was searched.

[. . .]

As of Tuesday, 22 victims had been positively identified and their families notified. Most of the bodies were so badly burned in the fire, identification has been difficult to accomplish.

On social media and in shared Google Docs, people are still searching for their missing family and friends. The LGBTQ community has been especially impacted by the realization that many who attended the ill-fated event on Friday identified as queer or transgender. In a year that saw the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history take place at an Orlando gay bar, the mass casualties at Ghost Ship have left many in the LGBTQ community distraught.

San Francisco resident Elisa Green told NBC Out she had planned to attend Friday night's music show at Ghost Ship but was tired and decided to stay home at the last minute.

"If I had gotten more sleep the night before or if my friend had called and encouraged me, I would have been there," said a stunned Green, who counted multiple friends among the Ghost Ship community and said she was grieving.

"It was such a positive, open community of people," Green added, "At this time in the world, it really hurts."
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Reuters's Peter Henderson is one of many journalists linking the terrible death toll of Oakland's Ghost Ship warehouse fire to the unaffordability of rent in Oakland, a city that is one of the more affordable in the San Francisco Bay area.

The two-story warehouse engulfed by a deadly Oakland fire at a Friday night dance party was typical of the collective spaces artists and musicians say they have increasingly looked for to cope with rising rents.

[. . .]

Officials have not confirmed whether people were living in the building, which had first floor spaces divided by home-made partitions and a staircase to a second level fashioned with wooden pallets.

However, high rents have forced many artists and musicians to overcrowd houses, take such accommodations and hold concerts and open houses to make ends meet, members of the artistic community said. They are also reluctant to ask landlords to bring living quarters up to fire code standards for fear of eviction.

"If you have multiple roommates (in a house), it is still $1,000 a month," said rock musician Courtney Castleman, 33, who left Oakland for nearby El Cerrito because of unaffordable rents.

Renting a space in an Oakland warehouse, by comparison, could cost $600-$700 per month, she said.
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The Globe and Mail features Stephen MacGillavray's interview with Kaye Chapman, a centenarian who at the age of 5 witnessed the Halifax Explosion 99 years ago today.

Nearly a century ago, five-year-old Kaye Chapman said goodbye to her four brothers and sisters as they rushed out the door of their north-end Halifax home. She collected her Bible and hymnbook and was about to play Sunday school, when a deafening boom swept her off her feet.

It was Dec. 6, 1917, toward the end of the First World War, when Halifax was the epicentre of the Canadian war effort.

Just before 9 a.m., the French munitions ship Mont-Blanc was arriving in Halifax to join a convoy across the Atlantic. The Norwegian vessel Imo was leaving, en route to New York to pick up relief supplies for battle-weary troops in Belgium. Both vessels were in the tightest section of the harbour when they collided, igniting a blaze that set off the biggest human-caused explosion prior to the atomic bomb.

The Halifax Explosion devastated the north end of the city, killing nearly 2,000 and injuring 9,000. The blast released an explosive force equal to about 2.9 kilotonnes of TNT. Shock waves were felt as far away as Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island. The Mont-Blanc was blown to pieces, its half-tonne anchor shaft landing more than three kilometres away.

Today, few survivors are left, likely none with the vivid firsthand recall of 104-year-old Mrs. Chapman, who lived on Clifton Street, about two kilometres from ground zero.

“As young as I was, I can see everything and I can even tell what we were dressed in,” she said at her assisted-living apartment in Saint John. “I had a little white outfit on – a tiny white dress and white stockings.”
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  • Antipope Charlie Stross wonders about the interactions between parasite loads and the intelligence of the inhabitants of off-world colonies.

  • Bad Astronomy shares a stunning mosaic of the Milky Way Galaxy.

  • blogTO notes the construction of a viewing platform for Toronto plane spotters.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog examines why we call other people stupid.

  • Imageo notes how Arctic sea ice is trending at record low levels.

  • Language Hat looks at the ways in which the English language is changing.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money and the Volokh Conspiracy consider whether the FBI announcement of the expansion of the Weiner E-mail search to target Hillary Clinton was legal.

  • Marginal Revolution reports that GM crops are apparently not increasing yields particularly.

  • Progressive Download's John Farrell reports on the politics of bashing Darwin and evolution.

  • Spacing considers a recent election outcome for mayor in Saskatoon.

  • Torontoist reports on the Russell Hill subway crash of 1995.

  • Window on Eurasia considers the prospect of Russians turning against Putin and argue his regime's fascist turn will be continuing.

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  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper noting how Tau Ceti's debris disk is not like our solar system's.

  • Language Hat talks about writers who want anonymity.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the return of homophobic protesters in France.

  • The Map Room Blog shares hazard maps of various Yukon communities.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that India's biometric smartcards work, and notes diversity does not reduce economic growth.

  • Peter Rukavina shares some late 1990s photos of cows taken with an early digital camera.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the recent controversy over Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

  • Window on Eurasia argues Russia might invade Ukraine more openly before January but also suggests that Russia is quite brittle.

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  • blogTO notes the mess on College Street.

  • D-Brief notes that the crater of Chixculub was hot enough to sustain a subsurface ecology for two million years.

  • Language Hat notes "brother" and some of its variations.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the United States' 1964 presidential election.

  • The Map Room Blog notes how Google does not map green spaces.

  • Peter Rukavina shares his family's trip to the beach on the Island.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at how Bashkortostan has been subjected to centralization.

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  • Astrobeat U>notes the vulnerability of Florida's Space Coast to Hurricane Matthews.

  • D-Brief notes that the Voyager probes are the most distant US government-owned computers still in service.

  • Dangerous Minds shares high-heeled tentacle shoes.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that a President Trump would enable anything the Congressional Republicans wanted.

  • The LRB Blog notes Vancouver's fentanyl crisis.

  • The NYR Daily reports on the lives of dissidents harassed by extralegal detentions.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer maps the recent Columbian referendum and finds that areas beset by FARC actually voted for the peace plan.

  • Gay porn star and sometime political radical Colby Kelly, Towleroad noted, is going to vote for Trump in order to push forward the revolution.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at religious developments in the former Soviet Union.


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