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Playing amidst a fallen empire


The children playing on Canada Day around the equestrian statue of Edward VI, originally mounted in New Delhi to celebrate the British Empire and later shipped to Canada when independent India had enough of it, evoked the fall of empires to me.
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  • The Big Picture shares shocking photos of the Portuguese forest fires.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • 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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  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the surprisingly exciting British elections. What will come of them?

  • The LRB Blog considers the question of the underlying motivations of pollsters.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen reshares an old column noting the destabilizing effects of Trump on American alliances.

  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at India's new heavy-lift rocket, the GSLV-MK3.

  • Torontoist looks at the City of Toronto's response to the overdose crisis.

  • Towleroad notes that the Japanese city of Sapporo has recognized same-sex relationships.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues that the constitutionality of Trump's edicts should not be defined by their being issued by Trump.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russian policy towards Ukraine since 1991 has been marked by consistent disinterest in Ukraine going its own way.

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  • Centauri Dreams describes a new type of planet, the molten hot rubble cloud "synestia".

  • Far Outliers describes the Polish rebels exiled to Siberia in the 19th century.
  • Language Hat looks at words for porridge in Bantuphone Africa.

  • Language Log examines whistling as a precursor to human language.

  • The LRB considers the new normal of the terrorist state of emergency.

  • Marginal Revolution notes the weakness of the Indian labour market.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer tries to explain to Uruguayans how Donald Trump made his mistake on the budget.

  • Savage Minds remembers the late anthropologist of Polynesia and space colonization, Ben Finney.

  • Towleroad examines the rather depressing idea of a porn-dominated sexuality.

  • Understanding Society examines Hindu/Muslim tensions in India.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on the weakness of Belarus' opposition.

  • Arnold Zwicky talks about Arthur Laurents.

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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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  • 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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My thanks to Facebook's Conrad for linking to Adrija Roychowdhury's fantastic article in Indian Express looking at an overlooked element of African history in India, of Africans in positions of sovereign power.

“When your family has been ruling for hundreds of years, people still call you by the title of Nawab,” says Nawab Reza Khan, tenth Nawab of Sachin as he traces his family’s regal history. Reza Khan currently works as a lawyer and lives in the city of Sachin in Gujarat. He says his ancestors came from Abyssinia (present day Ethiopia in East Africa) as part of the forces of Babur. Eventually, they conquered the fort at Janjira and later occupied Sachin and ruled over their own kingdoms.

The Nawab of Sachin is a personified remnant of a glorious African past in India. Africans have, for centuries been a part of Indian society. While the slave trade from Africa to America and Europe is well documented, the eastward movement of African slaves to India has been left unexplored.

The systematic transportation of African slaves to India started with the Arabs and Ottomans and later by the Portuguese and the Dutch in the sixteenth -seventeenth centuries. Concrete evidence of African slavery is available from the twelfth-thrirteenth centuries, when a significant portion of the Indian subcontinent was being ruled by Muslims.

There is, however, a major difference between African slavery in America and Europe and that in India. There was far greater social mobility for Africans in India. In India, they rose along the social ladder to become nobles, rulers or merchants in their own capacities. “In Europe and America, Africans were brought in as slaves for plantation and industry labour. In India on the other hand, African slaves were brought in to serve as military power,” says Dr Suresh Kumar, Professor of African studies in Delhi University.

These were elite military slaves, who served purely political tasks for their owners. They were expensive slaves, valued for their physical strength. The elite status of the African slaves in India ensured that a number of them had access to political authority and secrets which they could make use of to become rulers in their own right, reigning over parts of India. They came to be known by the name of Siddis or Habshis (Ethiopians or Abyssinians). The term ‘Siddi’ is derived from North Africa, where it was used as a term of respect.
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  • Apostrophen's 'Natha Smith talks about his tradition of the stuffed Christmas stocking.

  • Beyond the Beyond's Bruce Sterling talks about the decline of the Pebble wearables.

  • blogTO lists some of the hot new bookstores in Toronto.
  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly talks about some of her family's traditions.

  • The Dragon's Tales looks at the ancient history of rice cultivation in the Indus Valley Civilization.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the willingness of the Oklahoma Cherokee Nation to recognize same-sex marriages.

  • Language Log shares a photo of an unusual multi-script ad from East Asia.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money considers the Russian involvement in the American election and its import.

  • Marginal Revolution links to a book about the transition in China's financial sector.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on efforts to revive the moribund and very complex Caucasian of Ubykh.

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  • Beyond the Beyond shares an early 17th century Catholic Church communication doubting the Earth went around the sun.

  • blogTO notes the sympathy cards placed outside the American consulate in Toronto.

  • Crooked Timber argues that liberal progressivism hasn't been tried in recent years and so can't have failed.

  • The Dragon's Tales shares one model explaining the contradictions between the faint young sun and a warm early Mars.

  • Far Outliers reports on the roles of different types of British servants in India.

  • Language Hat shares a history of Canadian English.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes Richard Rorty's prediction of a Trump-like catastrophe and argues that economics do matter.

  • On the anniversary of the Bataclan, the LRB Blog reflects on the music of France.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes the grim predictions of Hans-Joachim Voth as to the degeneration of American life likely under Trump.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes the relatively low population growth of France in the 19th century.

  • Towleroad notes Trump's statement that gay marriage is settled.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that Belarus will have less maneuvering room under Trump.

  • Arnold Zwicky considers the colours of the pride rainbow.

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One category of exhibit that I liked in the Aga Khan Museum were the rare items manufactured in the Muslim world for Western consumers: a pair of albarelli (singular albarelli), an Andalusian astrolabe, a Hindustani painting of the crucifixion from the 16th century. Commerce was a univeral.

A pair of Albarelli #toronto #agakhanmuseum #syria #albarelli


Astrolabe #toronto #agakhanmuseum  #astrolabe #spain


The Crucifixion with the Virgin and St. John #toronto #agakhanmuseum #india #allahabad #christianity #virginmary #jesus #stjohn
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  • Centauri Dreams describes an unusually old circumstellar disk orbiting a red dwarf.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper analyzing the possible internal structure of Proxima Centauri b and looks at how common water worlds are.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at how poverty can complicate aging in the United States.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the Trump campaign's lack of understanding of Wikileaks.

  • The LRB Blog notes a liberal Briton opposed to EEC membership.

  • The Map Room Blog maps Mosul.

  • Marginal Revolution examines the question of whether to use "renminbi" or "yuan", and where.

  • The NYRB Daily hosts an exchange about the number of men who have fallen out of regular employment.

  • Savage Minds examines how a northeast Indian community has reclaimed archaeology.

  • Window on Eurasia argues a frozen conflict is better for Ukraine than an unjust peace, and looks at why economic downturns in Russia are not accompanied by political protest.

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

  • Language Hat talks about writers who want anonymity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Centauri Dreams and The Map Room each report on the ESA's Gaia satellite mapping project of the galaxy.

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on the hunt for hot Jupiters.

  • Marginal Revolution suggests that the Mexican peso has weakened because of Trump.

  • The Planetary Society Blog notes China's successful launch of its Tiangong-2 space station.

  • Savage Minds considers deviance for women in Bangalore, after Margaret Mead.

  • Torontoist considers what Toronto college and universities are doing to address sexual violence.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the Turkic peoples of the North Caucasus are moving towards the use of a shared language.

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  • Bloomberg notes the closure of Poland's frontier with Kaliningrad, looks at how Google is beating out Facebook in helping India get connected to the Internet, notes British arms makers' efforts to diversify beyond Europe and examines the United Kingdom's difficult negotiations to get out of the European Union, looks at the problems of investing in Argentina, looks at the complications of Germany's clean energy policy, observes that the Israeli government gave the schools of ultra-Orthodox Jews the right not to teach math and English, examines the consequences of terrorism on French politics, and examines at length the plight of South Asian migrant workers in the Gulf dependent on their employers.

  • Bloomberg View notes Donald Trump's bromance with Putin's Russia, examines Melania Trump's potential immigrant problems, and is critical of Thailand's new anti-democratic constitution.

  • CBC looks at how some video stores in Canada are hanging on.

  • The Inter Press Service notes that the Olympic Games marks the end of a decade of megaprojects in Brazil.

  • MacLean's approves of the eighth and final book in the Harry Potter series.

  • The National Post reports on a Ukrainian proposal to transform Chernobyl into a solar farm, and examines an abandoned plan to use nuclear weapons to unleash Alberta's oil sands.

  • Open Democracy looks at the relationship between wealth and femicide in India, fears a possible coup in Ukraine, looks at the new relationship between China and Africa, examines the outsized importance of Corbyn to Britain's Labour Party, and looks how Armenia's defeat of Azerbaijan has given its veterans outsized power.

  • Universe Today notes proposals for colonizing Mercury, looks at strong support in Hawaii for a new telescope, and examines the progenitor star of SN 1987A.

  • Wired emphasizes the importance of nuclear weapons and deterrence for Donald Trump, and looks at how many cities around the world have transformed their rivers.

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  • Bloomberg notes that Brexit may be good for European criminals, looks at the negative impact of Brexit on Japan's retail chains, examines the way a broken-down road reflects India-China relations, looks at Russia's shadow economy and observes Ukraine's effort to attract shippers to its ports.

  • The Globe and Mail notes the mourning in Québec for the Nice attacks.

  • MacLean's reports on a New Brunswick high school overwhelmed by Syrian refugees and examines the dynamics of Brazil's wealthy elite.

  • National Geographic notes that Brazil's capuchin monkeys have progressed to the stone age.

  • The National Post reports on evidence of cannibalism among Neanderthals, notes Kathleen Wynne's criticism of "All Lives Matter", and engages with the idea of a guaranteed minimum income.

  • Open Democracy engages with Scotland's strategy for Brexit.

  • Wired looks at a New York City park built to withstand rising seas, mourns the disappearance of the CD, and notes that scenes of murder will never disappear from our social media.

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  • Bloomberg notes that Brexit could give Scotland a chance to take some of London's finance industry, looks at the Canadian-born governor of the Bank of England, looks at a quiet crisis in the Russian economy re: investment, and notes the awkwardness of the British diaspora in the European Union.

  • Bloomberg View notes the United Kingdom's upcoming challenges with India.

  • The CBC notes that Iceland has gotten a Canadian-born first lady and looks at the new Panama Canal expansion.

  • Daily Xtra quotes the Canadian prime minister as arguing Canada must make amends for past wrongs to LGBT people.

  • MacLean's looks at the indecisive results of the latest Spanish election.

  • The National Post notes that Scotland is already preparing for a second vote.

  • Open Democracy looks at the strange new dynamics in Northern Ireland, where Unionists are applying for Irish passports.

  • Universe Today examines experiments in agriculture using simulated Martian soil, and looks at a star set to rotate around the Milky Way Galaxy's central black hole at 2.5% of the speed of light.

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In an extended photo essay, Noreen Ahmed-Ullah engages with modern Brampton's history as a centre of Canada's South Asian communities, and the ways this works out. (Some, as the title of the article indicates, are not nice.)

I live in a suburban Ontario town where the visible minorities are now the majority.

Brampton – a.k.a. “Browntown,” “Bramladesh”or “Singhdale” – is just like the nicknames imply: mostly brown.

On our street of new semi-detached houses, I see brown and black families, mostly immigrants. Strip malls consist almost entirely of Indian-only grocers, stores selling fancy South Asian clothes and sweet shops. My drive home off Highway 427 is lined with palatial Sikh gurdwaras, a monumental Hindu mandir and a soon-to-be-built mosque – the only church in the area is a tiny historic landmark.

At the walk-in clinic, brown and black families. At Service Ontario on a weekend, 30 people in line – only two are white and they are related. At the nearby library, an entire section carved out for Punjabi and Hindi books. And on Diwali, the night sky above Gore Road is lit up on both sides, crackling with competing fireworks displays.

It doesn’t surprise me any more when staff at a local Canadian Tire speak to me in Punjabi, or grocery stores advertise Diwali and Eid sales. Sobeys recently opened a supermarket in the heart of Brampton called “Chalo Freshco,” or “Let’s Go, Freshco,” marketing it as the first Canadian grocery store designed for “desis,” or those of South Asian descent, serving everything from spices and basmati rice found at an Indian grocery store to Indo-centric vegetables and ready-to-eat tandoori chicken and snacks.

On any given day, groups of women in colourful shalwar kameez (tunic and baggy pants) stroll vigorously along the sidewalk, getting in their daily exercise. Men in brightly hued turbans and flowing white beards bike to the neighbourhood park to hang out with friends.

Sometimes, I wonder if I live in India or Canada.
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  • blogTO notes laneway crawls in Toronto and notes a vacant lot in Leslieville is set to become a community market.

  • The Dragon's Tales looks at atmospheric nitrogen on Earth and Venus.

  • Joe. My. God. confirms Prince's death as a consequence of an opioid overdose.

  • The LRB Blog notes the importance of Felix the Cat in television broadcasting.

  • The Map Room Blog notes a collection of Atlantic Canadian maps.

  • Marginal Revolution talks about Indians taking good lessons from the Raj as well.

  • Peter Watts crows at the success of cephalopods on the changing Earth.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes the weakness of the Mexican welfare state.

  • Window on Eurasia notes the concentration of Russians in a bit more than a dozen major cities.

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  • Centauri Dreams looks at cometary breakups.

  • Dangerous Minds notes that a legal suit brought by a member of Kraftwerk has legalized sampling in Germany.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes one group claiming that Planet Nine is a captured exoplanet.

  • Language Hat looks at a native speaker of Hindi who is learning Gaelic as an adult.

  • The Map Room Blog maps the decline of dialects in England.

  • Marginal Revolution notes an apparent collapse in Indian fertility.

  • Window on Eurasia notes Putin's belief in the importance of spiritual bonds to hold Russia together.

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