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  • Language Log reports on the transliterations of "Trump" into Chinese and Chinese social networks.

  • Marginal Revolution shares Jill Lepore's argument that modern dystopian fiction deals with submission to the worst, not resistance.

  • At the NYRB Daily, Tim Flannery notes how Trump's withdrawal from Paris is bad for the environment and for the American economy.

  • Peter Rukavina's photo of stormclouds over Charlottetown is eye-catching. (I have not heard of "dark off" myself.)
  • Savage Minds announces a MOOC ANTH 101 course starting tomorrow.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Putin can afford to be aggressive because he is not constrained by Communist ideology.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • The Atlantic notes the chance that China might manage to supplant the United States under Trump as a guarantor of the world order.

  • In an older article, The Atlantic noted Mexico's potential to be a spoiler for the United States. Being less wealthy and powerful than the US is not the same as not being wealthy and powerful.

  • DW notes that there is the possibility of an entente between China and the EU, to sustain the multilateral order.

  • Spiegel Online notes that the Turkey of Erdogan these days is starting to fall out with its NATO partners.

  • Open Democracy argues the alienation of Europeans of Turkish background from liberal democracy has roots in Europe.

  • Also at Open Democracy, Nick Mullens argues that negatively stereotyping Appalachians leads only to their doubling-down on coal.

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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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  • blogTO shares media exploring how Toronto was marketed internationally in the 1980s. This decade apparently saw less concentration on landmarks and more on cultural activities.

  • The Map Room Blog links to a National Geographic collection of the childhood maps of cartographers.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that the loosening of China's one-child policy has not resulted in much change.

  • Justin Petrone wonders if Estonians are weird.

  • Steve Munro reports on the many, many problematic things coming out of Metrolinx, including fare-by-distance and the ongoing PRESTO disasters.

  • Supernova Condensate shares a thought-provoking set of statues on global warming, Follow the Leaders.

  • Torontoist's Kieran Delamont notes the astonishing thoughtlessness of new fashion brand Homeless Toronto.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at a Belarus in a state of political ferment that might--might--be pre-revolutionary, and wonders if disbanding Russia's ethnic republics could be profoundly destabilizing.

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  • 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.

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The Globe and Mail's Mike Hager notes how the lack of official statistics on foreign buyers of real estate in Toronto means, among other things, that less reliable data metrics like search engine hits need to be used. This just proves how modern societies need good data to address real problems.

‘Up! Up! Up!”

That’s where Toronto’s real estate market is heading, according to a Chinese-language promotional article posted last month on Fang.com, a Beijing-based web portal that lists thousands of homes for sale in countries around the world.

“You will really cry if you still don’t buy,” the same posting blares.

Toronto has become the “dark horse” of the Canadian real estate market, asserts Haifangbest.com, another site jammed with Canadian home listings. It contrasts Vancouver’s continuing drop in prices with a prediction that Toronto-area homes will rise 8 per cent in value this year.

In the months since British Columbia began taxing international buyers 15-per-cent extra on homes in and around Vancouver, those marketing Canadian real estate overseas have shifted their focus to Toronto. Last year, Toronto overtook Vancouver to become the most sought-after Canadian city for Chinese home buyers searching the property listing service Juwai.com, peaking in August just after British Columbia announced the tax aimed at curbing the public outrage over skyrocketing prices. Searches for properties in Toronto proper now surpass the total inquiries for Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa combined.

Richard Silver, a Sotheby’s realtor and past president of the Toronto Real Estate Board, estimates close to 20 per cent of his clients are international buyers – from China, India and the Middle East – interested in the luxury condos and houses he sells in and around the downtown core.
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  • blogTO notes the amazing spike upwards in temperatures for this weekend.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of some stark war memorials of the former Communist world.

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on brown dwarf HIP 67537b.

  • The LRB Blog looks at Donald Trump's interest in a Middle Eastern peace settlement that looks as if it will badly disadvantage the isolated Palestinians.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen reflects on his reading of Julius Evola and other hitherto-marginal writers.

  • The NYRB Daily notes the potential health catastrophe that could result from Donald Trump's anti-vax positions.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer suggests that the corruption marking the relationship of France and Gabon over that country's oil is finding an echo in the Trump organization's involvement in Filipino real estate.

  • Torontoist calls for regulation of road salt on grounds of its toxicity.

  • Transit Toronto looks at the various scenarios for King Street.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia's economic growth will lag behind growth elsewhere for the foreseeable future, and looks at protest in St. Petersburg over the return of an old church to the Orthodox Church.

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  • blogTO looks at deserted Mirvish Village.

  • Crooked Timber reenages with the Rachel Carson and DDT myth.

  • The Crux looks at the Mandela Effect, exploring false memories.

  • Dangerous Minds makes the case for the musical genius of Bobbie Gentry.

  • From the Heart of Europe's Nicholas Whyte recounts his visit to Albania's bunker museum.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes Brazil's retirement of its only aircraft carrier.

  • The LRB Blog looks at the extent and speed of events in the Trump Administration.

  • Marginal Revolution engages with a book examining France's carving out a "cultural exception" in international trade agreements.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw reports on the passing of rulership of the Australian micronation of Hutt River.

  • Peter Rukavina shares good advice for visiting museums: visit only what you can take in.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at Russian Orthodox Church opposition to a certain kind of Russian civic nationality, and argues Russia is losing even its regional superpower status.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell reports on how local councils in the United Kingdom are speculating on commercial property.

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The Globe and Mail's Josh O'Kane describes how, in an era of incipient protectionism in the United States, the city of Toronto has set up a new agency to attract investment.

Toronto and its surrounding municipalities are doubling down on efforts to entice foreign investment, with a new agency designed to pull new business and money into the region.

The cities and regions of Greater Toronto will join the federal and Ontario governments in spending $19.5-million over three years to launch the agency, which is to be called Toronto Global. It will be chaired by former Canadian Football League commissioner Mark Cohon, with former airport executive Toby Lennox as chief executive officer.

The initiative seizes a moment where global trade and investment patterns are shrouded in uncertainty because of the protectionist agenda of Donald Trump. The new U.S. President has said his administration will renegotiate the North American free-trade agreement and has used the threat of border taxes to discourage manufacturers that sell into the U.S. market from making products outside the United States.

Despite those threats, the new Toronto agency aims to lure investors into Canada’s biggest metropolitan area to boost economic growth and attract jobs across multiple sectors such as advanced manufacturing, technology, life sciences and financial services.

Toronto’s census metropolitan area accounted for 18.6 per cent of Canada’s GDP at basic prices in 2013, the latest year for which Statistics Canada has such data. Mr. Cohon described Toronto Global as a “concierge service” to both advise interested companies and attract new partners to set up business in the region.
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Wired's Davey Alba argues that the high concentration of immigrants, even refugees, in Silicon Valley made a hostile reaction to the Trump presidency very likely even before the announced border control policies.

Any thought that Silicon Valley might work with President Trump ended when the tech industry took a decisive stand against his Muslim ban. It simply had no other choice.

The condemnation has been swift and nearly unanimous. Today, Google employees worldwide walked off the job to protest the ban; CEO Sundar Pichai and co-founder Sergey Brin came out to support them. Over the weekend, big tech companies, venture capitalists, and even CEOs like Elon Musk and Travis Kalanick who are advising Trump denounced the draconian policy. It was a rare moment of unanimity for Silicon Valley, which is almost by definition a globalized industry built by, and welcoming toward, immigrants. Opposition to Trump’s immigration crackdown isn’t just political. It’s personal.

“No nation is better at harnessing the energies and talents of immigrants,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wrote today in a note to employees detailing the company’s opposition to the ban. “It’s a distinctive competitive advantage for our country—one we should not weaken.”

Many see the ban as an existential threat. Of the 274,000 skilled-worker visas, known as H-1B visas, the US issued in 2013, 65 percent went to people in computer-related jobs. More than that, though, the ban goes to the heart of the Valley’s culture, which emphasizes inclusion and globalism. It’s the stuff of legend. Steve Jobs was the son of Syrian immigrants, and Brin’s parents fled the Soviet Union when he was a child. As he told a reporter during a protest at San Francisco International Airport, “I’m a refugee.”

Sabba Nazhand, enterprise sales director at the web-based event planning platform Social Tables, says many people feel the ban personally. Even people who aren’t immigrants work alongside them and consider them friends. “It hit home,” says Nazhand, who was born in Iran. Whatever the external political considerations of tech companies might be, tech employees have had to come to terms with the reality of the immigration ban in ways that radiate outward, even at big companies.
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The Toronto Star carried the Canadian Press report about Demographia's latest international survey on the affordability of housing.

An annual international survey rates Vancouver as the third least affordable housing market on the planet and it also has a warning about Toronto housing.

The 2017 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey gives Vancouver a rating of 11.8, meaning median home prices are 11.8 times higher than median household income.

Read more: Toronto house prices climb more than 22%

Only Hong Kong, with a rating of 18.1, and Sydney, Australia, at 12.2, outstrip Vancouver.

Demographia says housing markets are affordable when median prices are no more than three times higher than median household income.
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CBC News' Pete Evans reports on this deeply symbolic move by President Trump, marking the end of an effort to build a US-centered trade network in the Pacific and the beginning of a new threat to North American integration.

The new U.S. president made good on one of his campaign promises Monday, formally withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal, and signalling his intention to renegotiate NAFTA "at the appropriate time."

Calling the move "great news for American workers," Donald Trump signed an executive order pulling the U.S. out of TPP, a pan-oceanic trade pact signed by his predecessor but never ratified.

The 12-nation trade deal had been a target of his wrath on the campaign trail. "We are going to stop the ridiculous trade deals that have taken everybody out of our country and taking companies out of our country," Trump said after signing the order.

Prominent Republican — and frequent Trump critic — Senator John McCain of Arizona was quick to criticize the decision, releasing a statement calling it a "serious mistake."

"This decision will forfeit the opportunity to promote American exports, reduce trade barriers, open new markets and protect American invention and innovation," McCain said. "It will create an opening for China to rewrite the economic rules of the road."
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The Toronto Star shares Mike Blanchfield's report about how the Canadian government wants to negotiate a free trade agreement with China. Especially now, given the uncertainty in our relationship with the United States, I'm strongly for this. Diversifying our options is almost always a good thing.

Canada and China are launching exploratory talks towards a free-trade agreement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday during a visit that saw the Chinese premier publicly defend his country’s use of the death penalty.

The ever-present clash of economic interests and human rights was on full display, as it always is in Sino-Canadian relations. But Li Keqiang displayed an easy familiarity with his host — one celebrated over a beer the night before at the prime minister’s Harrington Lake retreat — as the two leaders pushed forward their economic agenda.

Both leaders also acknowledged the thornier issues in their relationship, including ongoing political opposition in Canada to a potential extradition deal with China, which practices capital punishment and has a dubious human rights record.

As well, there is the spectre of China’s “Operation Fox Hunt” — its international pursuit and harassment of so-called economic fugitives and other dissidents.

Standing next to Trudeau in the foyer of the House of Commons, Li denied his country sends foreign agents abroad.

But he calmly addressed head-on the issue of capital punishment in his country, providing an elegant contrast to the tongue-lashing his foreign minister gave a reporter who asked him about human rights earlier this year in Ottawa.
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This Reuters report is potentially very significant. Does this mark the beginning of the Pax Sinica?

China does not want world leadership but could be forced to assume that role if others step back from that position, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Monday, after U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to put "America first" in his first speech.

Zhang Jun, director general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's international economics department, made the comments during a briefing with foreign journalists to discuss President Xi Jinping's visit to Switzerland last week.

Topping the bill at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Xi portrayed China as the leader of a globalised world where only international cooperation could solve the big problems.

Speaking days before Trump assumed the presidency, Xi also urged countries to resist isolationism, signalling Beijing's desire to play a bigger role on the global stage.

Elaborating on that theme, Zhang said China had no intention of seeking global leadership.

"If anyone were to say China is playing a leadership role in the world I would say it's not China rushing to the front but rather the front runners have stepped back leaving the place to China," Zhang said.

"If China is required to play that leadership role then China will assume its responsibilities," he added.
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  • Centauri Dreams shares a proposal for the relatively rapid industrialization of space in a few short years using smart robots with 3d printign technology.

  • To what extent, as Crooked Timber speculates, the Arthurian myth complex science fictional?

  • Dangerous Minds shares a lovely middle-finger-raised candle.

  • The Dragon's Gaze looks at the interactions between atmospheres and rotation for super-Earths and Venus-like worlds.

  • Joe. My. God. notes Wikileaks' call for Trump's tax returns.

  • Language Hat shares some words peculiar to Irish English.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that the words of Trump are meaningless.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cown considers some scenarios where nuclear weapons may end up being used.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at births and deaths in Russia between 2000 and 2015.

  • Savage Minds considers, inspired by the recent Michel Foucault read-in protest to Trump, the relationships between Foucault's thinking and racism.

  • Window on Eurasia calls for a post-imperial Russian national identity, argues that Trump's assault on globalization will badly hurt a Russia dependent on foreign trade and investment, and wonders what Putin's Russia can actually offer Trump's United States.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell offers a unique strategy for journalists interested at penetrating Trump's shell: trick them into over-answering.

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At Open Democracy, Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed argues that Donald Trump is not so much a cause of problems as a symptom of the deeper crises of American democracy in a time of growing economic and environmental constraints.

In 2014, a Princeton University study quantified just how badly US democracy is broken. Using a database of 1,779 policy issues, the study found that when a majority of Americans disagree with “economic elites” or “organised interests”, they “generally lose.”

The authors noted that when average citizens and affluent classes want the same policies from government, they usually get them. But when they disagree, the rich almost always win out. The study did not, contrary to numerous headlines, define the US as an oligarchy, but it did conclude that US democracy is in fact a system of “economic elite domination”.

Since then, the study has generated extensive academic debate, including three studies which have taken issue with these findings. However, the new studies do not contradict the Princeton study’s main verdict that the rich disproportionately dominate policy decisions at the expense of those who are less well-off. And the Princeton study’s verdict was not even that novel – it built on and corroborated the previous findings of numerous other political scientists studying political and economic inequalities in the US.

Trump was not part of the Washington political machinery, and it was this positioning as an ostensible ‘outsider’ even to the Republican Party that he used to his advantage. But ironically, the biggest reason for his victory was the sheer lack of public credibility of the Democrat candidate, Hillary Clinton. Democrat voters simply didn’t come out to vote for her.

Even if they had, what would they be voting for? Clinton was the favoured candidate of Wall Street, having received the most campaign donations from the US finance and banking elite.
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  • Beyond the Beyond links to a US military science fiction contest.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly notes that journalism is meant to offer criticisms of the president.

  • Crooked Timber has an open forum about the inauguration.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos from seminal 1980-era London club Billy's.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper reporting on a superflare on brown dwarf EPIC 220186653.

  • A Fistful of Euros' features Doug Merrill's meditations on 2009 and 2017.

  • Language Log looks at the etymology of the Vietnamese name "Nguyen."

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at Donald Trump's desire for a military parade.

  • The LRB Blog looks at Donald Trump as a winner.

  • Marginal Revolution links to a book on the economics of skyscrapers and notes a skyscraper boom in China.

  • Steve Munro looks at buses and their distribution on TTC networks.

  • Transit Toronto looks at how Exhibition Place work will complicate multiple bus routes.

  • Window on Eurasia notes low levels of Russian productivity, shares a Russian argument as to why Russia and the United States can never be allies in the long term, looks at counterproductive Russian interference in Circassian diaspora institutions, and shares argument suggesting Trump's style of language explains why he wants to forego complicated multilateral negotiations for bilateral ones where he can dominate.

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CBC News' Don Pittis warns that in a scenario where Donald Trump is likely to turn on Canada, Canada in turn must look to various partners and allies outside of North America in order to defend its interests.

The new anti-free-trade administration of Donald Trump hasn't even taken over the White House and it appears incoming secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross is already preparing to send Canada a list of demands.

"NAFTA is logically the first thing for us to deal with," Ross said yesterday when asked about his trade warning. "We ought to solidify relationships in the best way we can in our own territory before we go off to other jurisdictions."

Besides the neo-imperialist reference to Canada and Mexico as "our own territory," there is another reason to be wary.

It sounds as if the U.S. plan is a variation on the classic strategy of divide and conquer.

Only after sticking it to their "own territory" — in other words our territory — will the U.S. go on to make demands of more distant trade partners in Asia and Europe.

That might require Canada to step up and defend itself, including by looking for support from its free trading allies.
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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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