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  • Johann Hari writes for Open Democracy about what may be the beginning of the end of the drug war in Germany.

  • I am not in agreement with Joseph Couture's argument in NOW Toronto that the Internet has ended gay communities. (Convince me.)

  • Samantha Edwards reports in NOW Toronto controversy regarding the Parkdale feminist street art event. Was it really intersectional?

  • James Cooray Smith wonders--or "wonders"--why some Doctor Who fans are so upset with a woman portraying the Doctor.

  • In MacLean's, chief Perry Bellegarde argues that more Canadians should be concerned with the too-many deaths of young First Nations people in Thunder Bay.

  • The National Post tells the story of how Australian senator Larissa Walters had to unexpectedly resign her position on account of her Canadian birth.

  • Via James Nicoll, a paper claiming evidence of human presence in northern Australia, in Madjedbebe, 65k years ago.

  • National Geographic tells of the peculiar way some Gulf of Mexico dolphins prepare their catfish. Is it cultural, culinary even?

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  • Steve Munro shares photos of the ongoing reconstruction of Dundas and Victoria, on the 505 Dundas streetcar route.

  • blogTO notes that the steady increase in rental prices in Toronto came to a halt this month.

  • John Lorinc at Spacing starts a series speculating on the safety of Toronto hi-rises for seniors.

  • Torontoist reports on the achievements and the controversy of a feminist street art event in Parkdale.

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  • CBC Montreal notes how Andrée Archambault has been leaving books on the Montréal Metro for commuters to find.

  • CBC's Jonathan Ore notes the (perhaps surprisingly) innovative Transformers comics put out by IDW.

  • At The Conversation, Una McCormack writes about how the 13th Doctor being played by Jodie Whittaker fulfills her childhood dreams.

  • At The Globe and Mail, Russell Smith examines why the alt-right hates cultural experimentation and innovation so much.

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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait investigates a mysterious streak on a photo of Messier 77. Asteroid, satellite, something else?

  • Centauri Dreams reports on the latest attempt at a census estimate of brown dwarfs in the Milky Way Galaxy.

  • Crooked Timber's John Quiggin considers the diminishing role of the pundit, displaced by the expert.

  • D-Brief is one of many sources to note the deadly, ubiquitous perchlorates of Mars. Mars is dead for good reasons.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money links to a tweetstorm by one Kate Antonova arguing that the ideological labels of the long 19th century no longer speak to our issues.

  • Language Hat notes how early Tsarist mappers were confused by confusing, often shared, placenames.

  • The LRB Blog reports on the recovery of a Bloomsbury Wedgwood service features the images of notable women.

  • Marginal Revolution shares opinions that Macron is overrated, not least in terms of the distinctiveness of some of his policies from those of Trump.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that projected shrinkage of the workforce of Russia means either economic decline or controversial immigration.

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  • Anthony Easton at MacLean's writes in defense of Nickelback, one of Canada's most popular bands if not a critical darling.

  • Also in MacLean's, Stephanie Carvin notes that the new foreign and military policies announced by the Canadian government could still fall short.

  • Bloomberg View's Stephen L. Carter considers the idea of the just war through the lens of Wonder Woman.

  • Nuclear energy, it seems, will be India's answer to global warming in the era of Trump.

  • Qataris, Bloomberg notes, are trying to deal with their island country's state of siege.

  • Airbus may pull its production plants from the United Kingdom unless the country keeps single market access.

  • Refugees, Lynne Olson notes at National Geographic, helped save the United Kingdom during the Second World War.

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I went with a friend to catch Wonder Woman yesterday, and I left impressed. This film caught my attention, with excellent plotting and filming and a star-making turn from Gal Gadot. I can easily believe it capable of supporting the future DC cinematic universe, though I hope it will not have to do so alone.

The song that played over the closing credit was Sia and Labrinth's "To Be Human". This song, all about the limits to love that we know in our world, was a good choice.
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Writing in the aftermath of the Manchester attack, The Guardian's Alexis Petridis writes about how his understanding of the pop music concert changed when he saw the impact that it had on his daughter. It points the young child to the possibility of an exciting adult future.

There was more to the magic than infectious enthusiasm. I have spent a not-insignificant proportion of my working life at pop gigs in arenas filled with kids and teenagers, usually in a state of mild bemusement. I have seen shows I thought were abysmal and shows I thought were impressively slick. I have seen artists treat their audience with something bordering on contempt (there is something incredibly galling about watching a singer who can’t even be bothered to pretend to mime) and artists who genuinely left me open-mouthed (Miley Cyrus, following her decision to abandon her squeaky-clean Disney image for something deliberately provocative). I could make an informed, objective critical judgment about them, but I never fully understood them, never really grasped what they were for, never really got what was going on in the audience, until I saw one through my daughter’s eyes.

It wasn’t just that she was overawed by the spectacle, although she was: stuff I took for granted – lasers, pyrotechnics, confetti cannons, all the usual bells and whistles of a big pop show – were a constant source of overwhelming sensory overload. Nor was it the way her lack of cynicism made me reconsider my own feelings, although that happened too. I have always been deeply suspicious of the kind of rhetoric that modern pop surrounds itself with: all that platitudinous “just be yourself”, “if you dream it you can do it” stuff. But my daughter took it all at face value and I ended up thinking: Well, there’s certainly worse messages you can send out to kids.

But mostly it was the way it gave her a first glimpse of a world that was previously outside her experience, a more adult, or at least more mature world than the one she knew, a world that would one day be her own, and how excited she was to see it, how – as she put it – grown-up it made her feel. She experienced something that transcended her pretty fickle and changeable musical allegiances. Jessie J has long been replaced in her affections – by, among others, Ariana Grande. The selfie she took that night is still on her bedroom wall. If that was true of a seven-year-old being chaperoned by her father, how much more true was it for the kids that were just old enough to be there without their parents, the ones who had relegated their mums and dads to waiting in the foyer or outside in the car?
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  • D-Brief shares rare video of beaked whales on the move.

  • Dangerous Minds notes that someone has actually begun selling unauthorized action figures of Trump Administration figures like Bannon and Spencer.

  • Language Log looks at a linguistic feature of Emma Watson's quote, her ending it with a preposition.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen considers, originally for Bloomberg View, if Trump could be seen as a placebo for what ails America.

  • The New APPS Blog takes a Marxist angle on the issue of big data, from the perspective of (among other things) primitive accumulation.

  • The Search reports on the phenomenon of the Women's History Month Wikipedia edit-a-thon, aiming to literally increase the representation of notable women on Wikipedia.

  • Towleroad notes the six men who will be stars of a new Fire Island reality television show.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy finds some merit in Ben Carson's description of American slaves as immigrants.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Belarusians are beginning to mobilize against their government and suggests they are already making headway.

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  • Antipope's Charlie Stross wonders if the politics of Trump might mean an end to the British nuclear deterrent.

  • Centauri Dreams shares Andrew LePage's evaluation of the TRAPPIST-1 system, where he concludes that there are in fact three plausible candidates for habitable status there.

  • Dangerous Minds shares the gender-bending photographs of Norwegian photographers Marie Høeg and Bolette Berg.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog takes a look at the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.

  • The Extremo Files looks at the human microbiome.

  • Language Hat links to an article on Dakhani, a south Indian Urdu dialect.

  • The LRB Blog looks at policing in London.

  • The Map Room Blog notes that 90% of the hundred thousand lakes of Manitoba are officially unnamed.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at the remarkable Akshardham Temple of New Delhi.

  • The Planetary Society Blog notes how citizen scientists detected changes in Rosetta's comet.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer provides a visual guide for New Yorkers at the size of the proposed border wall.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog links to a paper taking a look at the history of abortion in 20th century France.

  • Torontoist looks at the 1840s influx of Irish refugees to Toronto.

  • Understanding Society takes a look at the research that went into the discovery of the nucleus of the atom.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on Belarus.

  • Arnold Zwicky shares photos and commentary on the stars and plot of Oscar-winning film Midnight.

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CBC News' Alexandra Sienkiewicz looks at the long history of the Badminton and Racquet Club destroyed by fire, noting--among other things--a conservatism that once extended down to barring non-white males from membership.

When a devastating fire swept through the 90-year-old Badminton and Racquet Club near Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue Tuesday afternoon, the organization added yet another chapter to its storied history.

The club opened in 1924 when the old TTC streetcar barns on St. Clair Avenue were converted into seven badminton courts. The B & R, as it's affectionately known among those who use it, started with only a few members from Toronto's elite — but has since grown to include more than 2,750 members. To this day, it remains a private facility and access can be gained by membership only.

The club has also been known for its history of segregation of the sexes. It wasn't until 1980 that women were allowed to sit in on board meetings — but without voting rights. "Women are to be seen and not heard," says the club's website in describing that period of its history.

"The idea of women on the board had been rejected annually as many of the men on the board felt that the "right kind of man" would not serve if there were women at the table," it adds.

It was only in 1997 when men and women could sit together when a co-ed dining room was introduced — nearly 75 years after the club's opening.
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There are many reasons to criticize the government of Ontario's Liberal premier, Kathleen Wynne. There are many ways to criticize her. The personal abuse described in Mike Crawley's CBC News report is not one of these ways.

The replies to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne on Twitter are not for the faint of heart.

The tweets at Wynne predominantly express anger about her record and most stay within the bounds of fair comment, not crossing the line into personal abuse. Such calls as "Resign!" "You're incompetent!" and "Worst premier ever!" are now simply part of the deal for a politician in the era of social media.

But Wynne also draws a significant number of abusive, sexist and homophobic tweets. [. . .]

The comments on Wynne's Facebook page are equally nasty, but her communications team filters out posts that contain the most abusive words so the public can't view them.

A member of the premier's staff showed CBC News nearly 40 Facebook posts filtered out from just the past week, including ones calling Wynne a "wrinkly bitch" (by a Facebook user named George Onock) a "subhuman, dirty dyke" (Frank Yurkowski) and a "lying cheating c--t."
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CBC News' Michelle Cheung reports on how city cuts mean that the cost to parents of daycare provided by the Toronto District School Board will rise significantly, perhaps even prohibitively for some.

A proposal in the 2017 budget could see some parents paying more for child care that is already notoriously expensive.

"It's more than university," Amanda Munday said in an interview on Thursday.

Munday has two young children and she says when her four-month-old baby enrolls in fulltime daycare later this year, her childcare costs will be more than her wage.

[. . .]

Munday joined Toronto District School Board Trustee Jennifer Story at a media conference at Bruce Public School on Thursday.

Story is helping to round up parents and daycare operators to voice concerns over the proposed $4.1-million funding cut that could translate into higher child-care costs.

City staff have proposed eliminating coverage for the annual occupancy costs of the TDSB, Toronto Catholic District School Board, Toronto French District School Board and Toronto District French Catholic School Board. Those costs include paying for heat, lights and maintenance of daycare spaces on school property.

"We can fight this," Story said in an interview. "We are hoping to convince the city that this isn't a wise move to increase the already extremely high cost of child care in Toronto."
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The Globe and Mail carries a Canadian Press report describing how the Confederation Centre of the Arts gallery in Charlottetown has restored the identity of a woman artist of the 19th century.

For decades, her creations have been wrongly attributed to men — but after a two-year investigation of her work, the daughter of a former Prince Edward Island lieutenant governor is finally getting credit long overdue in what a researcher calls a “little feminist victory.”

The Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown opened its “Introducing Caroline Louisa Daly” exhibit over the weekend, but it’s hardly the first time her paintings have graced its halls. Some pieces have been part of the gallery’s permanent collection since the 1960s.

But the paintings and drawings were for years wrongly attributed to Charles L. Daly and John Corry Wilson Daly — Ontario men who were of no relation to Caroline Louisa Daly.

“I don’t think it was a malicious misattribution by any means, but I think it’s just all too easy to forget the accomplishments of women sometimes,” said gallery registrar Paige Matthie. “(That was) the driving force that kept me going back to it over and over again ... to give credit to a woman who we’ve never, ever acknowledged before.”
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National Geographic's Simon Worrell interviews Dava Sobel, an author whose new book The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars takes a look at the late 19th century women whose observations basically created the framework for our understanding of stars and the universe.

Tell us about the glass universe—is this the ultimate glass ceiling or something else altogether?

[Laughs] It’s both. It’s about women and astronomy and also about a unique collection of half a million photographs on glass plates that are stored in the Harvard College Observatory. Women are traditionally underrepresented in science, so it’s interesting to look back to the 1870s to 1890s and find that as many as 20 women at a time were working at the Harvard Observatory.

You don’t think of Harvard as a place that’s particularly friendly to women, especially then. The observatory was a wholly disowned subsidiary and made their own rules and went their own way. The director, Edward Pickering, was very much in favor of higher education for women and for giving women a chance if they were interested in doing astronomical work. There had been a tradition of women working in the observatory, but the earliest were family members of the astronomers, the resident observers. By Pickering’s time, women he hired were reporting for seven hours a day, six days a week, and had no family connection to the place. They were just capable and interested.

Were they the ones that took the pictures?

No. At the beginning, there was a real separation of duties. The men would operate the telescopes partly because of propriety. You couldn’t have the women in there with the men, up all night. [Laughs] But by 1896, that changed with women coming in from college-level programs in astronomy, who had learned to observe. The first woman to use the telescopes was Annie Jump Cannon in 1896.
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Vice's Allie Conti looks at the reasons for the decline of the women's land movement, a back-to-the-earth movement started by lesbians in the 1970s that now seems to currently be on its last legs. The general drift of non-heterosexuals to cities, as well as the declining popularity of traditional lesbian identities among the young, are equally responsible.

[A]fter the Vietnam war, as thousands of Americans moved away from cities to adopt an agrarian lifestyle, scores of lesbians simultaneously became disenchanted with the emerging women's liberation and gay rights movements, which many perceived as being either homophobic or misogynist. They reacted by forming closed-off, utopian societies—farms and communes where women often took on traditionally male activities like mechanics and engineering, in what would come to be known as the women's land movement. But like religious sisterhoods and lesbian bars, these male-free communities, which once boasted thousands of members, are in clear decline today.

Young queer people who want to get back to the land today have more options than women like [Susan] Wiseheart, who decades ago relied on the women's land movement to provide safety in numbers and reclusion from a society once hostile to their sexuality.

Terri has long since moved on from Aradia, but Wiseheart has remained, and says she never plans to leave. It is, after all, her life's work. But once she's gone, it's unlikely that anyone will be willing or able to continue her mission. Signs of that are written across Hawk Hill—where chickens, dogs, donkeys, guinea fowl, cattle, horses and a flock of sheep once roamed its fields, calling it a farm today would be a categorical misstatement. Wiseheart now lives there with a few friends, also in their sixties and seventies, and a straight woman helping to pay the bills while they seek out a lesbian renter.

"We're still sometimes nervous, because we live in a fundamentalist Christian area," she explains. "We've managed to be safe and fine so far. We just don't want to be advertising it widely."

Meanwhile, there may be few modern women left willing to live a relatively cloistered life on a lesbian-only tract of land in the Ozarks. Young queer people who want to get back to the land today have more options than women like Wiseheart, who decades ago relied on the women's land movement to provide safety in numbers and reclusion from a society once hostile to their sexuality.
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  • Bad Astronomy shares a video imagining of how Cassini will meet its end with Saturn.

  • Cody Delistraty shares an interview with Rebecca Solnit.

  • Far Outliers reports on Margaret Thatcher's unorthodox campaign in 1979.

  • Joe. My. God. shares Hillary Clinton's thanks to her 66 million voters.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at gender stereotypes among scientists.

  • The NYRB Daily talks about the visual art of Pipilotti Rist.

  • Otto Pohl commemorates the 73rd anniversary of the deportation of the Kalmyks.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests China might follow Russia's Crimea strategy in invading Taiwan, and looks at the latest on controversies about Tatar identity and genetics.

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The Toronto Star's Laurie Monsebraaten reports on the exceptionally high cost of childcare in Toronto. It is difficult for me to imagine how this lack of affordability fits with public priorities at all.

Toronto mother Crystal Hunt is losing money every day she works because the cost of daycare for her baby and toddler is more than she earns in take-home pay.

“I had an opportunity to work for this amazing company,” says Hunt, 33, who took an entry position with the e-commerce company Shopify this fall.

“I needed to be in the workforce. If I waited until my kids were in school, my skills would be null and void. And I can’t afford to go to school again. We have a mortgage.”

Monthly fees for Hunt’s two boys — Ethan, 16 months, and William, 3 — are more than $2,600 in after-tax dollars, “my entire salary,” she says.

Hunt and her husband Jonathan are not alone in their struggle to pay for child care in Toronto, where parent fees are still the highest in the country, according to the third annual survey of child care fees in Canada’s largest 28 cities.

Median monthly fees in the city top $1,649 for infants, $1,375 for toddlers and $1,150 for preschoolers.
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Cody Delistraty's blog post takes a look at the way women has been excluded from the city as random walkers, how the word "flâneur" is gendered masculine in more ways than the obvious one, and how a new generation of women are challenging this.

For centuries, the word ‘flâneur’ has burrowed itself into the historical conversation of what it means to intimately know a city, to walk in it, to fully experience it, to be independent within it. The term, meaning a man who saunters around observing society, can be traced back to at least 17th-century France. It was first explained in detail in an 1872 edition of Larousse’s Grand dictionnaire universel du XIXe siècle in which the dictionary’s authors define it taxonomically: “flâneurs of the boulevards, of the parks, of the cafés.” In his 1837 novel César Birotteau, Honoré de Balzac called it “gastronomy of the eye.” Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve said that to flâne is “the very opposite of doing nothing,” insofar as it is an intellectual pursuit. Some trace the word back even further back, to 1587, with the Scandinavian noun ‘flana’, meaning “a person who wanders.” And it was Walter Benjamin, drawing on the poetry of Charles Baudelaire, who first used the term in a scholarly context, writing about it in the 1920s and further honing its definition: a flâneur, for Benjamin, was at once an inherently literary character, a man of leisure, and a symbol of the modern, urban experience.

Flâneur became a historically valuable term. For at least two centuries, the word adopted a variety of meanings and contexts, but eventually it became a catchall byword for a modern, educated person. To be a flâneur was to encapsulate the progress and the civility of the Western world. The best-known flâneurs are also some of modern history’s most important writers, scholars, aristocrats, poets, and thinkers: from Thomas de Quincey to André Breton to Edgar Allen Poe to Charles Baudelaire to Will Self.

Google ‘flâneuse’, the feminine form of the word, and one only finds photographs and descriptions of a type of chaise longue. Women are excluded from the term. While this is a linguistic exclusion, it is also very much a historical one. To be excluded from the word is to be ostracised from the history of intellectualism, modernisation, even civilisation.

And yet it shouldn’t be so. Virginia Woolf was walking and learning and thinking; so too were the writers Jean Rhys and George Sand and the intrepid reporter Martha Gelhorn; likewise contemporary women like writer-artist Sophie Calle, artist Laura Oldfield Ford, and film director Agnès Varda. There have been dozens of important female saunterers, but centuries in the making, the word flâneur has failed to find room for them. Their contributions to the progression of modernity have largely been forgotten or rendered less important than those of their male counterparts.

Lauren Elkin, a critic, novelist, and author of the recent Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London, believes that the solution to women being omitted from the history of walking is not to try to retroactively integrate them into the definition of flâneur. Instead, she has sought to redefine “flâneuse,” not as a type of chaise longue, but as a female flâneur. In doing so, Elkin has allowed herself—and historians—to reflect on the history of women walking and to properly revise it.
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  • Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith has a two part review of some of the fiction that he has recently read.

  • blogTO looks at Casa Loma lit up for the holidays.

  • Dangerous Minds notes The London Nobody Knows, a documentary of the grim areas of late Victorian London.

  • Language Hat looks at how 16th century Spanish linguists represented Nahuatl spelling.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the iatrogenic transmission of syphilis via unsterile instruments during the Civil War.

  • The LRB Blog notes the many conflicting contracts signed by the KGB with different television groups at the end of the Cold War.

  • Marginal Revolution notes Rio de Janeiro's attempts to deal with tourism-targeted crime by compensating victims with a tourist-directed tax.

  • Maximos62 looks at the geological reasons for Indonesia's volcanism.

  • Progressive Download looks at the all-woman Homeward Bound expedition to Antarctica.

  • Peter Rukavina looks at the backstory behind the creation of the village of Crapaud.

  • Spacing Toronto looks at how signs asking people to go slow in children-inhabited zones.

  • Torontoist looks at where Suicide Squad was filmed in Toronto.

  • The Understanding Society Blog looks at the specific experiences which molded the French tradition of sociology.

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The opinions expressed by Akie Abe, wife of the Japanese premier, in a Bloomberg article by Isabel Reynolds and Emi Nobuhiro, strike me as eminently plausible. If women are forced to be cute and not allowed to be competent, of course their presences will be limited.

Japan’s women are being held back by pressure from men to be cute, rather than capable, the wife of Japan’s prime minister said in an interview.

"Men’s thinking has not changed," 54-year-old Akie Abe said last week when asked how society’s attitude to women has evolved since she joined the workforce in her twenties. "Japanese men tend to prefer cute women over capable and hardworking women. So women try to appear to be the type that men like. Even very talented women put on cutesy ways."

While many more women now continue working after marriage and children, "big companies are a man’s world," she said. "Some things have changed and others haven’t."

Akie said she supports her husband Shinzo Abe’s efforts to have women play a more active role in society. The premier has championed a goal of having at least 30 percent of management roles in all fields filled by women, in a bid to make up for the labor shortage caused by Japan’s aging and shrinking population. The country is making slow progress toward those targets -- a government survey published last year found 8.3 percent of those in section chief or higher positions in business were female, compared with 7.5 percent the year before.

"My feeling is that women don’t necessarily want to work in the same way as men, such as thinking it’s good to be promoted. There is now an effort to change the way people work, working efficiently within a given time rather than late at night, so that women’s viewpoints can be reflected in a way they haven’t been in the past," she said.

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