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  • Centauri Dreams notes new studies suggesting the flares of red dwarf stars damage potentially habitable planets.

  • The Crux notes that the wild apple is going extinct.
  • D-Brief notes that recent high winds in Europe helped push energy prices there to negative territory.

  • The Frailest Thing considers Neil Postman's thoughts on the intersection of mass media and childhood.

  • Inkfish argues in favour of accidental wetlands in urban areas.
  • Language Log looks at the trope of the repeated character in some recent Chinese advertising.

  • The LRB Blog considers the costs, environmental and otherwise, to the United States' leaving the Paris climate agreement.

  • Marginal Revolution wonders what assumptions about deep history the news of Homo sapiens' longer history overturn.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that, in the area of energy costs, mid-20th century Uruguay was worse off than New Zealand.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at polling on Russian opinions about the Russian Far East and its future.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell is skeptical about Jeremy Paxman's claims about privacy in modern journalism.

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  • The Atlantic's Ed Yong notes the discovery of dated Homo sapiens fossils 300k years old in Morocco. (!)

  • The Atlantic reports on Twitter-driven science that has highlighted the remarkable visual acuity of the spider.

  • The Economist notes that multilingual societies can encounter more difficulties prospering than unilingual ones.

  • Torontoist notes a Thunder Bay park devoted to the idea of First Nations reconciliation.

  • The Inter Press Service reports on how gardens grown under solar tents in Bolivia can improve nutrition in poor highland villages.

  • The Toronto Star's Christopher Hume trolls Rob Ford's supporters over the new, well-designed, Etobicoke Civic Centre.Metro Toronto calculates just how many avocado toasts would go into a mortgage in the GTA.

  • MacLean's hosts a collection of twenty photos from gritty Niagara Falls, New York.

  • The National Post shows remarkable, heartbreaking photos from the flooded Toronto Islands.

  • Edward Keenan argues that the Toronto Islands' flooding should help prompt a local discussion on climate change.

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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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This weekend, I've been thinking a lot about Michael Hobbes' very recent Huffington Post article "Together Alone: The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness". I know I'm not alone in this, having seen this article shared by several other friends and in at least one other discussion group.



Hobbes' question is simple: Why, despite significant legal progress in the past decades, are the lives of young gay men (probably generalizable to young queer men) still marked by so many signs of trauma?

[T]he rates of depression, loneliness and substance abuse in the gay community remain stuck in the same place they’ve been for decades. Gay people are now, depending on the study, between 2 and 10 times more likely than straight people to take their own lives. We’re twice as likely to have a major depressive episode. And just like the last epidemic we lived through, the trauma appears to be concentrated among men. In a survey of gay men who recently arrived in New York City, three-quarters suffered from anxiety or depression, abused drugs or alcohol or were having risky sex—or some combination of the three. Despite all the talk of our “chosen families,” gay men have fewer close friends than straight people or gay women. In a survey of care-providers at HIV clinics, one respondent told researchers: “It’s not a question of them not knowing how to save their lives. It’s a question of them knowing if their lives are worth saving.”

I’m not going to pretend to be objective about any of this. I’m a perpetually single gay guy who was raised in a bright blue city by PFLAG parents. I’ve never known anyone who died of AIDS, I’ve never experienced direct discrimination and I came out of the closet into a world where marriage, a picket fence and a golden retriever were not just feasible, but expected. I’ve also been in and out of therapy more times than I’ve downloaded and deleted Grindr.

“Marriage equality and the changes in legal status were an improvement for some gay men,” says Christopher Stults, a researcher at New York University who studies the differences in mental health between gay and straight men. “But for a lot of other people, it was a letdown. Like, we have this legal status, and yet there’s still something unfulfilled.”

This feeling of emptiness, it turns out, is not just an American phenomenon. In the Netherlands, where gay marriage has been legal since 2001, gay men remain three times more likely to suffer from a mood disorder than straight men, and 10 times more likely to engage in “suicidal self-harm.” In Sweden, which has had civil unions since 1995 and full marriage since 2009, men married to men have triple the suicide rate of men married to women.

All of these unbearable statistics lead to the same conclusion: It is still dangerously alienating to go through life as a man attracted to other men. The good news, though, is that epidemiologists and social scientists are closer than ever to understanding all the reasons why.


Hobbes' answer, that young people are traumatized firstly by the stresses of growing up in the closet in often very difficult circumstances then by entering a gay community that insensitively allows the imposition of new restrictions and rules, all without much recognition of these psychological shocks never mind treatment of said, is one that convinces me. I have say that I think I recognize some of the symptoms in my own life, certainly in the sort of cultivation of emotional distance from any potential stressors Hobbes describes towards the end.

What do you think? Have you read this article? What are your opinions on the issues it describes?
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The National Post carries Ben Guarino's Washington Post article reporting on the exciting finds of mysterious hominid skulls in China. Could these actually be, as some speculate, remnants of the Denisovans, or of another still more obscure human population?

Modern humans outlasted the Neanderthals by about 40,000 years and counting. But don’t pat yourself on the back too firmly for outliving those troglodytes. Neanderthals crafted tools and tamed fire. They cared for their dead. Animal horns and blackened fire pits encircling the remains of a Neanderthal toddler suggest a 42,000-year-old funeral rite. If a Neanderthal indeed wore a talon necklace, as a collection of polished eagle claws indicate, they beat us to jewelry, too. Perhaps one of your ancient ancestors found the claw necklaces sexy: Some scientists theorize humans gave Neanderthals genital herpes and tapeworm parasites.

Their proportions, however, remained distinctly Neanderthal. Neanderthal bodies were shorter and stockier, more Gimli son of Gloin than Gigi Hadid. Their skulls were built differently, too, with a few features – like heavy brow ridges – particularly unlike ours.

Which makes a pair of newly-described skulls something of a wonder. The partial skulls have features up to this time unseen in the hominid fossil record, sharing both human and Neanderthal characteristics.

“It is a very exciting discovery,” as Katerina Harvati, an expert in Neanderthal evolution at the University of Tübingen in Germany who was not involved with the research, told The Washington Post. “Especially because the human fossil record from East Asia has been not only fragmentary but also difficult to date.”

Excavators dug up the skull cap fragments in 2007 and 2014, in Lingjing, located within China’s Henan province. The diggers discovered two partial skulls in a site thought to be inhabited 105,000 to 125,000 years ago, during an epoch called the Pleistocene. The owners of the skulls were good hunters, capable of fashioning stone blades from quartz. Ancient bones of horses and cattle, as well as extinct woolly rhinoceros and giant deer, were found strewn nearby the skull remains.
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  • Anthropology.net reports on the recent discovery in China of two skulls a hundred thousand years old, possible remnants of a hitherto-unknown hominid species.

  • blogTO reports on the boom in the Toronto tech community.

  • Language Log breaks down the linguistics, specifically word lengths, of audiobooks.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the difficult position of indigenous peoples in Nicaragua.

  • Marginal Revolution reports on the potential health benefits of substances in the blood of the Komodo dragon.

  • The NYRB Daily reports on the modernist photography of Berenice Abbott.

  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the adventures of the Mars rovers.

  • Supernova Condensate takes a quick look at Jupiter's moon, Io.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at a new Russian film that transposes the superhero genre with the Soviet era, and argues that Russia is acting these days not as a constructive power but as a spoiler.

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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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  • 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 Crux makes the case that, for too long, modern homo sapiens have underestimated the genius of the Neanderthals.

  • D-Brief looks at the efforts of some scientists to develop brewing standards for the Moon.

  • Language Hat examines different languages' writing standards--Turkish, Greek, Armenian--in the late Ottoman Empire.

  • Language Log deconstructs claims that Japanese has no language for curses.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen looks at the standards of truth by which Trump's supporters are judging him.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at the hollow Styrofoam aesthetics of the Trump Administration.

  • Savage Minds considers the idea of personhood.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell considers key mechanics of populism.

  • Arnold Zwicky meditates, somewhat pornographically, on a porn star of the last decade and public sexuality.

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Via the Map Room Blog I came across an article in The New York Times offering advice to people with problems in territories unknown to them. . Speaking as someone who generally does not have troubles with orienting himself, these and the other pieces of advice offered make sense to me: Having an idea as to where are you going, both beforehand in initial planning and at the time when you're doing whatever you're doing, helps a lot.

Create a mental map

Review a map of your proposed route before heading out, and perhaps even trace it with your finger, Dr. Brendan Kelley, a neurologist at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said in an email. It will help provide context for the route. Once you arrive, review the map and the route you traveled to reinforce the memory of how you got there.

By reviewing a map before your travel, you can take note of “handrails” — landmarks such as bodies of water, stores and streets — that will visually guide you, Ben G. Oliver, the director of outdoor education at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., said in an interview.

Be mindful of place

Stop and enjoy the scenery. Set your phone to vibrate every 15 minutes to remind you to note where you are, Richard S. Citrin, an organizational psychologist from Pittsburgh, said in an email.

Take notes and comment about what you see. That will help orient you and strengthen connections in your brain about where you are and have been.

Try not to get stressed, because that makes it more likely you will become disoriented and confused. “When our automatic responses take over, we usually wind up lost emotionally and sometimes physically,” he said.
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  • Anthropology.net looks at the genetics of how the Inuit have adapted to cold weather.

  • 'Nathan Smith's Apostrophen shares the author's plans for the coming year.

  • Beyond the Beyond's Bruce Sterling shares Margaret Atwood's commitment to fighting for freedom of expression.

  • Crooked Timber asks its readers for recommendations in Anglophone science fiction.

  • D-Brief notes the discovery of the human mesentery.

  • The Dragon's Gaze looks at the protoplanetary disk of LkCa 15 disk.

  • Far Outliers looks at some lobsters imported to Japan from (a) Christmas Island.

  • Joe. My. God. notes Janet Jackson has given birth.

  • Language Hat examines the contrast often made between indigenous and immigrant languages.

  • Language Log looks at the names of the stations of the Haifa subway.

  • Steve Munro notes Bathurst Station's goodbye to Honest Ed's.

  • The Planetary Society Blog examines the Dawn probe's discoveries at Ceres in the past year.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at how the permafrost of the Russian far north is melting and endangering entire cities, and contrasts the prosperity of the Estonian city of Narva relative to the decay of adjacent Ivangorod.

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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly writes about the importance of showing up for major events.

  • Crooked Timber looks at e-publishing for academia.

  • Dead Things notes that the evolution of the human brain and human teeth were not linked.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to two papers about ocean worlds and greenhouse effects.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the hopeful seasteaders of French Polynesia.

  • Towleroad looks at the life of a trans man in the mid-20th century.

  • Window on Eurasia shares a Catalonian linguists' argument that linguistic diversity helps minority languages.

  • Arnold Zwicky reflects on the gay cowboy scene.

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Anthropology.net's Kambiz Kamrani reports on an exciting archeological finding from the Aegean, suggesting that Neanderthals or a different hominid population managed to reach the Greek islands.

Mousterian spearheads, a classic Neanderthal tool type, were excavated from the Stelida archeological site on the Greek island of Naxos by from McMaster University. There has been a long time belief that the first people to colonize this particular region were early farmers who arrived by boat approximately 9,000 years ago. These artifacts imply something much much different as they could be 250,000 years old. Archaeologist, Tristan Carter, co-director, comments on the these artifacts,

““The stone tools they were finding on the site looked nothing like the stone tools that had ever been found before on prehistoric sites in the Cycladic Islands.””

The Mousterian culture is Paleolithic. And these spear heads furnish evidence that humans reached the islands of the Aegean Sea a quarter million years ago and maybe earlier. If confirmed, it means the first people on Naxos were Neanderthals, or their probable ancestors, Homo heidelbergensis or maybe even Homo erectus. But how did they get there -Could these archaic hominins have travelled by boat?
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Michael Greshko writes in National Geographic about new findigns about the possibile social structures of our hominid ancestors.

Adding to an electrifying discovery made almost 40 years ago, researchers have uncovered a new set of footprints made by an early human ancestor that roamed Africa more than 3.6 million years ago.

Found in Laetoli, a renowned archaeological site in northeastern Tanzania, the 14 newfound footprints add to a set of 70 tracks uncovered in 1978 by paleontologist Mary Leakey. In all, the tracks are the oldest prints of their kind ever found, providing crucial evidence that walking on two legs was picked up early in the human lineage.

Spread out over an area three times bigger than an average parking space, the prints most likely belong to two individuals of Australopithecus afarensis, the hominin species most famously represented by the fossil known as “Lucy.” (Read more about how Lucy might have died.)

The footprints are among the many cultural treasures found in Tanzania, a country rich in ancient paleontological sites. Olduvai Gorge, some 20 miles to the northeast of Laetoli, famously harbored some of the earliest known human fossils.

Celebrating that heritage was the only reason the new prints were found at all: In 2015, Tanzanian archaeologists Fidelis Masao and Elgidius Ichumbaki, both of the University of Dar es Salaam, found the new footprints while evaluating the potential impacts of building a museum on the Laetoli site.
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  • blogTO notes that Toronto's housing market is now hotter than Vancouver's.

  • The Crux looks at progress in human reproductive technology, including in ectogenesis.

  • D-Brief looks at a new simulation of an asteroid impacting the ocean.

  • Dangerous Minds reports on a French cement truck made into a giant mirrored disco ball.

  • In Media Res' Russell Arben Fox writes about the benefits of reading the Old Testament.

  • Language Hat considers the experiences of one man trying to learn Avar.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money suggests Obama's evaluation of his historical touchstone personalities is off.

  • The Map Room Blog looks at Soviet spy maps.

  • The Planetary Society Blog tries to figure out space policy under the Trump Administration.

  • Window on Eurasia notes Russia's loss of sporting events and argues that Circassian language and culture are threatened with extinction.

  • Arnold Zwicky talks about two unusual flowers.

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The Toronto Star's Betsy Powell looks at how, and why, Toronto streets can emerge as zones of conflict.

Why do Toronto’s busiest streets and highways sometimes feel like combat zones?

There are many theories on why people become angry behind the wheel of a car, says Christine Wickens, a scientist with CAMH’s Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, who has studied driver aggression.

“Most people who are generally hostile are going to be generally hostile on the roadway as well,” Wickens says citing one widely accepted theory.

Human beings are also territorial by nature, so “there’s this personal space around your vehicle, and you don’t want it to be invaded.”

Another theory is that the anonymity of driving fuels bad behaviour. “If someone cuts you off on the highway, chances are they can’t see you. You’ll probably never come across them again,” she says.

“But if it happens in your driveway, and you and your neighbour pulled out at the same time, and nearly hit each other, would you be just as likely to get out and scream and yell and rant and rave? Probably not.”
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  • Crooked Timber looks at how evolutionary psychology can be used to justify monarchy.

  • Far Outliers shares an excerpt describing how methamphetamine is used as a secondary currency in North Korea.

  • The Frailest Thing shares quotes examining the link between seeing something and liking it.
  • Language Hat talks about ways of voicing surprise.
  • Language Log looks at a linguistically mixed language of China.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money argues the recounts are far more likely to help Trump than Clinton.

  • Marginal Revolution points to an interesting book on the Cuban economy.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy looks at the idea of a sanctuary city in the context of American federalism.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at the complex legalities surrounding religion and disbelief in Russia.

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Elf Sternberg has written a smart essay about emotion, and what we are actually saying when we claim that we are unemotional, that we are beyond this and are purely rational.

When we say someone is "unemotional," what we're really saying is that they're engaged in the privileged feelings of masculinity: pride, reserve, contentment. Act like it, because your peers already terrify you if you don't.

Queer men like myself aren't "more emotional;" we're permitting ourselves a wider range of emotions than other men, because our status requires we either deal with the terror of stepping outside the box of performative masculinity, or surrender to the closet and its miseries. Black men aren't "more emotional;" they're acting outside of the emotional range white America would rather see from them (reserved and content with a lesser status), driven by a rage I can understand and with which I can empathize, if not feel as deeply as they do.

Consciousness is a quality we humans seem to possess in unique abundance. When we say, "I feel," we're expressing a conscious need at a conscious level, but we are feeling something all the time. Psychologists know this, advertisers know this. Politicians on the right know that making people fearful makes them want simple, authoritarian answers to their problems. It doesn't even have to be a *political* fear; asking people to walk over a frightening bridge makes them more likely to favor authoritarian policies in a questionnaire administered later the same day!

All consciousness is driven by emotion. All of it, without fail. Jesse Lee Patterson's man-shaped pack animals tearing into the weakling among them is pure, endocrinological emotion and nothing less. We are not thinking machines operating on pure rationality– and if we were, from where would our motives come? We are feeling machines that developed the capacity to think as our best tool, the one that put us at the top of the food chain, the one that keeps us there unless it leads to our crapping our own nest into an uninhabitable mess. Men who act "unemotional," who claim their decisions aren't driven by their feelings, are lying to you, and to themselves. What they're really doing is performing a pantomime of fearlessness because they're terrified of what would happen if they didn't.
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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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At Demography Matters, I blog about the idea that the human life expectancy might be limited to 115 years.



Even if this is the case for the foreseeable future, I argue that there's still much that can be done to make sure we reach this limit and that life to this limit is as healthy as possible.

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