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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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  • Centauri Dreams remembers Ben Finney, this time from the angle of a man with an interest in space colonization.

  • Crooked Timber wonders what will happen to the Anglo-American tradition of liberalism.

  • Dangerous Minds imagines the VHS tapes of Logan and Stranger Things.

  • Far Outliers notes the Soviet twist on Siberian exile.

  • Inkfish notes that Detroit is unique among cities in being a good place for bumblebees.

  • Marginal Revolution wonders if modern Germany really is a laboratory for innovative politics.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at José Maria de Eça de Queirós, the "Proust of Portugal".

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw updates his readers on his writing projects.

  • Torontoist reports on how Avi Lewis and Cheri DiNovo have advocated for the NDP's Leap Manifesto.

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  • Bloomberg looks at the recent surge of Chinese investment in Southeast Asia.

  • Culture.pl looks at why Nietzsche falsely claimed Polish ancestry.

  • Foreign Policy suggests that this is a new age of German prominence in the West.

  • The New Yorker finds Amazon's new brick-and-mortar bookstores lacking.

  • The Toronto Star shares claims that learning a second language provides mental benefits.

  • Universe Today notes the discovery of potentially habitable super-Earth Gliese 625 b.

  • Vice's Motherboard notes how the popularization of ayahuasca-driven spirit quests has actually hurt traditional users.

  • Vox notes the latest Russia-Ukraine history fight on Twitter.

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  • Beyond the Beyond notes an image of a wooden model of Babbage's difference engine.

  • James Bow talks about the soundtrack he has made for his new book.

  • Centauri Dreams considers ways astronomers can detect photosynthesis on exoplanets and shares images of Fomalhaut's debris disk.

  • Crooked Timber looks at fidget spinners in the context of discrimination against people with disabilities.

  • D-Brief notes that Boyajian's Star began dimming over the weekend.

  • Far Outliers reports on a 1917 trip by zeppelin to German East Africa.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money argues that there is good reason to be concerned about health issues for older presidential candidates.

  • The NYRB Daily reports on Hungary's official war against Central European University.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes the origins of modern immigration to Russia in internal Soviet migration.

  • Savage Minds shares an ethnographer's account of what it is like to look to see her people (the Sherpas of Nepal) described.

  • Strange Maps shares a map speculating as to what the world will look like when it is 4 degrees warmer.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues that the US Congress does not have authority over immigration.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia's population will be concentrated around Moscow, compares Chechnya's position vis-à-vis Russia to Puerto Rico's versus the United States, and looks at new Ukrainian legislation against Russian churches and Russian social networks.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes how Evelyn Waugh's writings on the Horn of Africa anticipate the "Friedman unit", the "a measurement of time defined as how long it will take until things are OK in Iraq".

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  • blogTO looks at eleven recent Toronto-themed books, from fiction to children's literature.

  • Centauri Dreams considers the idea of using waste heat to detect extraterrestrial civilizations.

  • Far Outliers reports on how German East Africa substituted for foreign imports during the blockade of the First World War.

  • Marginal Revolution suggests that the fall of Rome may have been due to the failure to reconquer North Africa.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at the exuberant art of Jazz Age Florence Stettheimer.

  • The Planetary Society Blog shares a stunning portrait of Jupiter from the New Horizons probe.

  • Window on Eurasia considers the idea of containment in the post-Cold War world.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell looks at the British election.

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  • Anthropology.net reports on new evidence that Homo naledi may have used tools, buried their dead, and lived alongside Homo sapiens.
  • Centauri Dreams remembers an abortive solar sail mission to Halley's Comet.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of the "Apache" dancers of France.

  • Cody Delistraty writes about Swedish futurist Anders Sandberg and his efforts to plan for humanity's future.

  • At the Everyday Sociology Blog, Karen Sternheimer talks about her day as a sociologist.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the good news that normal young HIV patients can now expect near-normal life expectancies.

  • Language Hat looks at a recent surge of interest in Italian dialects.

  • Language Log looks at the phenomenon of East Asians taking English-language names.

  • The LRB Blog considers the dynamics of the United Kingdom's own UDI.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at the existential issues of a growing Kinshasa still disconnected from the wider world.

  • Steve Munro notes that Metrolinx will now buy vehicles from France's Alstom.

  • The New APPS Blog uses Foucault to look at the "thanatopolitics" of the Republicans.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at Trump's constitutional crisis.

  • Out There considers the issues surrounding the detection of an alien civilization less advanced than ours.

  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the United States' planetary science exploration budget.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at Argentina's underrated reputation as a destination for foreign investment.

  • Progressive Download shares some thinking about sexual orientation in the context of evolution.

  • Peter Rukavina looks at the success of wind energy generation on the Island.

  • Understanding Society takes a look at the dynamics of Rome.

  • Window on Eurasia shares a lunatic Russian scheme for a partition of eastern Europe between Russia and Germany.

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  • Centauri Dreams looks at evidence that Ceres' Occator Crater, an apparent cryovolcano, may have been recently active.

  • Crooked Timber's John Quiggin wonders what would have happened had Kerensky accepted the German Reichstag's proposal in 1917.

  • Dangerous Minds looks at some fun that employees at a bookstore in France got up to with book covers.

  • Cody Delistraty describes F. Scott Fitzgerald's utter failure to fit into Hollywood.

  • A Fistful of Euros hosts Alex Harrowell's blog post taking a look at recent history from a perspective of rising populism.

  • io9 reports on a proposal from the Chinese city of Lanzhou to set up a water pipeline connecting it to Siberia's Lake Baikal.

  • Imageo notes a recent expedition by Norwegian scientists aiming at examining the winter ice.

  • Strange Maps links to an amazing graphic mapping the lexical distances between Europe's languages.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is on the verge of a new era of population decline, and shares a perhaps alarming perspective on the growth of Muslim populations in Russia.

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  • Centauri Dreams reports on asteroid P/2016 G1, a world that, after splitting, is now showing signs of a cometary tail.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers outrage as a sociological phenomenon. What, exactly, does it do? What does it change?

  • Joe. My. God. reports on a new push for same-sex marriage in Germany, coming from the SPD.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines the Alabama government's disinterest in commemorating the Selma march for freedom.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at Oxford University's attempt to recruit white British male students.

  • At the NYRB Daily, Masha Gessen warns against falling too readily into the trap of identifying conspiracies in dealing with Trump.

  • pollotenchegg maps the distribution of Muslims in Crimea according to the 1897 Russian census.

  • Savage Minds takes a brief look at ayahuasca, a ritual beverage of Andean indigenous peoples, and looks at how its legality in the United States remains complicated.

  • Elf Sternberg considers the problems of straight men with sex, and argues they might be especially trapped by a culture that makes it difficult for straight men to consider sex as anything but a birthright and an obligation.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers how the complexities of eminent domain might complicate the US-Mexican border wall.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on protests in Russia and argues Belarus is on the verge of something.

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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly describes a week in her life as a freelance writer.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes how the Indus Valley Civilization did, and did not, adapt to climate change.

  • Language Log reshares Benjamin Franklin's writings against German immigration.

  • The NYRB Daily follows one family's quest for justice after the shooting by police of one Ramarley Graham.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the Pale of Settlement.

  • Torontoist looks at Ontario's food and nutrition strategy.

  • Transit Toronto reports on how PRESTO officials will be making appearances across the TTC in coming weeks to introduce users to the new system.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at how ethnic minorities form a growing share of Russian emigration, looks at the manipulation of statistics by the Russian state, and suggests Putin's actions have killed off the concept of a triune nation of East Slavs.

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This live version of Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft's "Der Mussolini" has been playing in my head all week.

Geh' in die Knie
Und klatsch' in die Hände
Beweg' deine Hüften
Und tanz' den Mussolini
Tanz' den Mussolini
Tanz' den Mussolini
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  • blogTO notes that Uniqlo will be giving away free thermal clothing tomorrow.

  • James Bow shares his column about the importance of truth.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly shares with us her mid-winter walk.

  • Centauri Dreams reports about cometary water.

  • Dangerous Minds shares German cinema lobby cards from the 1960s.

  • Language Hat talks about dropping apostrophes.

  • Language Log reports about lexical searches on Google.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the latest from Trump.

  • The NYRB Daily shares a review of an Iranian film on gender relations.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes the ongoing gas price protests in Mexico.

  • Spacing links to some articles about affordable housing around the world.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes Germany's abolition of a law forbidding insults to foreign heads of state.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests that stable Russian population figures cover up a wholesale collapse in the numbers of ethnic Russians, and looks at the shortages of skilled workers faced by defense industries.

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BBC's Damien McGuinness reports from Berlin about how two Brexiteers' address to a conference of German business leaders, intended to secure decidedly United Kingdom-friendly terms, managed instead to fail. The profound misunderstanding of German intentions and German interests is almost painful to read about.

The distinguished audience members were too polite to heckle. But the eye rolling, frowns and audible tutting made it quite clear how the Brexiteers' message was going down with German business leaders.
Owen Paterson, a former minister and Conservative MP, and John Longworth, co-chair of Leave Means Leave, came to Berlin on Saturday with a clear mission - to persuade German business leaders to lobby Chancellor Angela Merkel to give Britain a good trade deal.

They should have been on safe territory.

The two men are confident, witty speakers with impressive business and free-trade credentials.

Mr Longworth is a former head of the British Chamber of Commerce. Mr Paterson's years spent trading in Germany meant he could open his address with a few remarks in German - which drew an appreciative round of applause - and a well-judged joke about multilingual trade.

But it turned out they had entered the lion's den.

The laughter from the audience quickly turned to sniggers as they heard the UK described as "a beacon of open, free trade around the world".

Westminster's decision to leave the world's largest free trade area does not look like that to Germany.
When Europe was blamed for spending cuts and a lack of British health care provision, there were audible mutters of irritation from the audience.
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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly calls on journalists to stand up to Trump.

  • Centauri Dreams looks at exocomets.

  • Language Log shares an ad from the 1920s using the most vintage language imaginable.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money talks about globalization as a mechanism for concentrating wealth at the top of the elite.

  • The LRB Blog talks about the ghosts of the Cold War in the contemporary world.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen argues that Germany has its own responsibility in transatlantic relations.

  • The New APPS Blog looks at the importance of administrative law.

  • The NYRB Daily celebrates John Berger.

  • Savage Minds proposes a read-in of Michel Foucault in protest of Trump's inauguration on the 20th.

  • Towleroad reports on the latest statistics on the proportions of LGBT people in the United States.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at the continuing depopulation of the Russian Far East and examines the shift to indigenous naming practices in Kyrgyzstan.

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Bloomberg View's Leonid Bershidsky argues that, owing to the greater resilience of German politics and a more honest media environment among other things, any Russian involvement in Germany's elections would have more limited results. Here's hoping.

Merkel's Achilles heel in this election is the refugee crisis of 2015. I doubt, however, that much unpublished kompromat exists on that: Merkel's mistakes in handling the crisis were extensively covered by the German press. And unlike Americans, whose trust in the media is at a historic low, Germans still trust traditional media.

There's a notable difference between the ways relatively conservative Germans and tech-crazy Americans get their news. Only 20 percent of Americans find it in newspapers; 57 percent of Germans still read a newspaper or a magazine every day. That means the effectiveness of fake news campaigns and social network echo chambers won't be as high in Germany as it was in the U.S.

Besides, Germans are far more amenable to speech restrictions than Americans. Germany has hate speech laws that would be impossible under the First Amendment. Calls to outlaw fake news or prosecute those who spread it are coming from many quarters, especially from Merkel's party, the Christian Democratic Union, and the other centrist political force -- its coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party. Unlike in the U.S., the government in Germany has the ability to go after those who knowingly publish disinformation. A Russian TV journalist who reported on the fake rape earlier this year was briefly under investigation, though he wasn't convicted.

On Tuesday, the leader of the Social Democrats, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, posted a photo of a handwritten message on Twitter: "A fair fight! That's how we must fight the 2017 election -- not like in the U.S.! No fake news, no bashing, no insults." Gabriel wrote "fake news" and "bashing" in English. Germany doesn't even have the kind of echo chambers of anti-establishment opinion that amplified the anti-Clinton line in the U.S., where a propaganda effort could just use the existing channel that gorged on the additional content. In Germany, the channel itself would need to be built.
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Torontoist's Emily Macrae looks at the globalization of the Christmas Market.

In a city known for snow, skiing, and hearty cuisine, wooden stalls fill a downtown park to create an annual Christmas market. The scene is Sapporo, Japan, which has hosted a German Christmas Market since 2002.

Japan’s fourth-largest city might seem like an unlikely place to find Bavarian specialties, like pretzels, each December, but the event is a result of Sapporo’s relationship with its sister city, Munich.

Christmas markets have a long history in Germany, dating back to the Middle Ages, with the first written records of the winter festivals appearing in the mid-1600s. Today, there are some 2,500 markets in Germany, and similar practices are found in neighbouring countries.

As anyone who’s wandered through the Distillery District’s Christmas Market can attest, vendors typically sell crafts and other gifts alongside warming food and drink. From glogg (mulled wine) in Denmark to grzane piwo (mulled beer) in Poland, there is no shortage of festive beverages, and Canadian gamay may soon join the ranks of holiday icons.

Sapporo shows that Christmas markets have expanded beyond their origins in Central Europe to become a global phenomenon. So if countless cities across multiple continents boast markets, do these seasonal events contribute to the unique identity of a community or simply entrench each place as an interchangeable site of shopping and off-key songs?
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  • Centauri Dreams looks at signs of advanced technologies detectable by SETI searches.

  • D-Brief notes evidence of the domestication of turkeys in eth and 5th century Mexico.

  • Dangerous Minds discusses a legendary 1985 concert by Einstürzende Neubauten.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the banning of Tila Tequila from Twitter.

  • Language Log looks about a Hebrew advertisement that makes use of apostrophes.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money bids farewell to one of its bloggers, Scott Eric Kauffman.

  • The LRB Blog notes that Israel is fine with anti-Semites so long as they are Zionists.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that Hillary Clinton won the most economically productive areas of the United States.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer suggests anti-sprawl legislation helped lose the recent election.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes Russia's banning of LinkedIn.

  • Towleroad notes Ellen Degeneres' winning of a Presidential honor medal.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Trump could be much less easy to handle than the Kremlin thinks, and looks at claims that small northern peoples are conspiring with foreigners.

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Via the National Post I found Ishaan Tharoor's Washington Post article documenting how Donald Trump's grandfather sought to escape deportation from his Rhineland homeland.

According to a bulletin by the Associated Press, the letter was penned in 1905 and was addressed to Prince Luitpold of Bavaria, a monarch who presided over a realm within the united German Empire. Trump beseeches the “well-loved, noble, wise and just” Bavarian royal not to deport him. Luitpold apparently decided to reject what Trump offered as a “most subservient request.” The document was recently identified by a local historian in a state archive.

Friedrich Trump reached the United States in 1885 when he was 16, after leaving his home town of Kallstadt, in what is now the southwestern German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Although his arrival in New York City was like that of myriad other European immigrants seeking greater opportunity, his departure from Bavaria was illegal — he skipped mandatory military service in the kingdom's armed forces and was formally stripped of Bavarian citizenship four years later.

Trump went on to make his fortune out west, including a stint running taverns and brothels amid the gold rush in Canada's Yukon territory. He “mined the miners,” as one chronicler put it, and his Arctic restaurant became one of the more infamous institutions of the territory.

“For single men the Arctic has the best restaurant,” wrote a moralizing 19th-century journalist in the Yukon Sun. “But I would not advise respectable women to go there to sleep as they are liable to hear that which would be repugnant to their feelings and uttered, too, by the depraved of their own sex.”

Trump later returned east and made trips back to his homeland in the early 1900s, including one visit during which he met his eventual wife. Her homesickness compelled Trump to attempt to return to Kallstadt with all of his life savings. But his status as a draft dodger and noncitizen prompted a deportation order.


(He failed to escape the deportation order.)
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  • blogTO notes that Toronto has its first Ethiopian food truck.

  • Beyond the Beyond considers the alien ocean of Europa.

  • Centauri Dreams looks at the protoplanetary disks of brown dwarfs.

  • D-Brief notes that Saturn's moon Dione may have a subsurface ocean.

  • The Dragon's Gaze looks at how broadly Earth-like exoplanets form their atmospheres.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog wonders about the benefits of praising failure, as a sign of risk-taking.

  • Far Outliers notes how the English village became an imaginary eden.

  • Language Log looks at a Hong Kong legislator's Sanskrit tattoo.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes one man's upset with the announcement that Wonder Woman must have a bi past.

  • The LRB Blog considers controversy over electoral boundaries in the United Kingdom.

  • The Map Room Blog links to some maps showing the continuing divisions of post-reunification Germany.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at the limit of Danish "hygge", coziness.

  • Seriously Science looks at the surgeries performed on fish.

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Feargus O'Sullivan at CityLab noted a recent study observing that Berlin, unique among major European capitals, is poorer than the national average. This does highlight Berlin's particular problems, he suggests, but also notes the extent to which Germany outside of its capital is prosperous.

Germany would actually be better off without Berlin. That, at least, might be the skim-read conclusion to be drawn from a challenging new report from Cologne’s Institute of German Economy. The report, released Tuesday, notes that Germany’s per capita GDP would actually be higher if Berlin and its population were removed from national economic figures.

[. . .]

Before we look at why Germany’s figures skew differently, it’s worth looking more fully at the figures the report provides. They don’t, for instance, actually suggest any inherent relation between the size of a capital’s contribution to national GDP and the overall prosperity of a country. Of all capitals surveyed, it’s actually Athens that shows the greatest national dominance. If that city and its habitants were removed from national figures, then Greece’s GDP per capita would drop by 19.9 percent. The Paris region shows similar levels of national contribution: its absence would slash French per capita GDP by 15 percent. In the U.K., no London would mean a drop of 11.2 percent in per capita GDP. A Madrid-free Spain’s per capita GDP would drop by 6 percent, while even Rome—known for playing second fiddle to the economic powerhouse of the North Italian Plain—would cause Italy’s per capita GDP to drop 2.1 percent if it were removed from the country’s economy.

It’s only in Berlin that these figures appear to suggest Germany would actually be better off without it. Removing Berlin and its residents from German economic tallies would, according to the report, actually boost the country’s per capita GDP, albeit by a meager 0.2 percent.

The reasons for this are as distinctive as Berlin’s standalone negative performance. Certainly, a rather sluggish economy doesn’t help. Without its capital status, Berlin might be just another rustbelt city, an ex-industrial metropolis whose swing towards an economy based on the service, technology, tourism and creative sectors has (as so often is the case) failed to fully compensate for the decline of the city’s industrial base. It’s not for nothing that Berlin had until recently a reputation as a cheap place to live. Prices long remained low because jobs were often scarce and wages relatively meager. As of this July, Berlin’s unemployment rate of 9.5 percent was the second highest (after Bremen) of any German federal state. If there is a loser hidden behind Berlin’s relatively poor performance, it’s unemployed, underpaid Berliners who are struggling despite living cheek-by-jowl with the government of Europe’s most powerful country.

Berlin’s unusual performance is still arguably as much an example of the strength of Germany’s regions at the weaknesses of the city itself. While in other countries, capitals suck in all the wealth, talent and investment, Germany remains a mosaic of prosperous cities scattered throughout its territory. Its largest metropolitan area (as opposed to its largest city) is not Berlin but the huge Rhine-Ruhr region, an industrial conurbation that’s home to over 11 million residents. Munich and Hamburg are both major economic and cultural centers with higher median wealth than the capital, while the heart of continental Europe’s finance industry is in Frankfurt. The Federal Constitutional Court is in the modest city of Karlsruhe, while the city with the highest per capita GDP is actually Wolfsburg, home to Volkswagen.

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