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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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Bloomberg's Lucas Shaw notes that although Spotify is not yet profitable, it has managed to accumulate quite a few subscribers. Will this be enough to let it last?

Spotify has surpassed 50 million subscribers, extending its lead over rivals Apple Music, SoundCloud and Google as the world’s largest paid music streaming service.

The service, owned by Stockholm-based Spotify Ltd., has been growing at a breakneck pace. The company said it had 30 million subscribers less than a year ago, and 40 million subscribers in September. Apple Inc., owner of the second-largest paid service, said last month its streaming service has more than 20 million customers.

Adding paying customers will help Spotify pitch investors, who expect the company to file for an initial public offering and are looking for signs the company can convert its growing subscriber base into a sustainable business. Spotify, which is unprofitable, generates almost all of its sales from subscriptions, though the music service also has tens of millions of additional users who listen for free, supported by advertising.
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Michelle Da Silva's brief article in NOW Toronto notes that Queen Street West in Toronto will finally get some free public WiFi--indeed, already has it. Now for the rest of Toronto to follow suit!

Accessing free WiFi in Toronto can often mean ducking into a McDonalds, Starbucks or other fastfood chains. In “world class” cities, such as Tel Aviv, New York City, Seoul, Barcelona, Bangalore and Osaka, free Internet access is readily available everywhere.

The neighbourhood of West Queen West is hoping to change that. Starting February 23, anyone walking along Queen West between Niagara and Markham streets will be able to access free WiFi by logging onto FREE WQW WI-FI.

The service is being offered by the West Queen West BIA and Besify, a Markham-based Internet firm. This stretch of Queen West marks the first phase of a project. Rob Sysak, executive director of the WQW BIA, says that phase two of the project, which includes Queen West between Gladstone and Dovercourt, will launch in March.
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Russell Smith's essay published in The Globe and Mail on the 25th of January, considering the claims of the selfie to cultural legitimacy, even the status of high art. I largely agree with him: There's no reason why the self-portrait is a negative form when it's a photograph, certainly not when it's a photograph that's a product of modern computing technology aided by social networking platforms. At their best, the properly-cultivated selfie really can be high art, or at least great fun.

Columnist after pundit has come out to claim that one of Obama’s many strengths was a familiarity with pop music and comedy, and an ability to goof around (as with the selfie), to appear natural and self-deprecating at the same time. He appeared on late-night talk shows, he played along with comedians (Zach Galifianakis, Key and Peele, Jerry Seinfeld), he had rappers at the White House. The guy compiled Spotify playlists (on an official White House account). This, surprisingly, did not make him look unpresidential, just cool.

This goes against the intuitive feeling that many of us – well, many of us over 40 – have when contemplating the role of the selfie in young people’s lives. The taking of many amusing, sexy or boastful phone-shots, does not look, generally, to be conducive to the obtaining of high public office. Most of the selfies we see posted by young people on their social media seem to be perpetuating a culture of narcissism. Their lack of dignity and their salaciousness, we fear, endanger their future careers.

[. . .]

Just as such anti-selfie sentiment seems to reach an apex, the Saatchi Gallery in London is planning a major exhibition, to open March 31, entirely devoted to the notion of instant self-representation in the contemporary age. It is more ambitious, though: called “From Selfie to Self-Expression.” It juxtaposes painted self-portraits – by van Gogh and Rembrandt – with staged and stylized contemporary photo self-portraiture – by Tracey Emin and June Calypso – and the candid, amateur selfies of celebrities, including Obama.

Its point is simple: that selfies are a part of a long tradition of great art. Painters have practised techniques on themselves since the invention of paint, and they have also used their own faces as vehicles for mood and self-expression. They are often vaguely defiant. (Think of all those sober, frowning painters’ faces: What are they so mad about?)

Endless photos of oneself in various guises or identities have also become a repeated form of feminist art: June Calypso shoots herself undergoing fantastical beauty regimens in luxurious bathrooms, surrounded by mirrors; Cindy Sherman poses as threatened heroines in nightmarish faux-Hollywood movies. Tracey Emin’s notorious narcissism – an oeuvre that celebrates the artist’s own trashiness – is also defiant, a challenge to received ideas about femininity. A photo of hers in the Saatchi show portrays her with legs splayed, scooping paper money into her crotch. These are in a sense commentaries on the selfie age and angry defiance of the disapproval of female vanity.
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  • At Apostrophen, 'Nathan Smith writes about the status of his various writing projects.

  • Beyond the Beyond's Bruce Sterling links to an article examining pieces of software that have shaped modern music.

  • blogTO notes the expansion of the Drake Hotel to a new Junction site. Clearly the Drake is becoming a brand.

  • Citizen Science Salon looks at how Internet users can help fight illegal fishing in the Pacific.

  • Crooked Timber asks readers for new Doctor Who candidates.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper finding that the presence of Proxima Centauri would not have inhibited planetary formation around Alpha Centauri A and B.

  • The LRB Blog notes the growing fear among Muslims in the diaspora.

  • The Map Room Blog shares a reimagined map of the Paris metro.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy and Towleroad have very different opinions on the nomination of Neil Gorusch to the US Supreme Court.

  • Transit Toronto reports on the reopening of the TTC parking lot at Yorkdale.

  • Whatever's John Sclazi responds to the past two weeks of Trump-related chaos, and is not impressed.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that the Russian Orthodox Church carries itself as an embattled minority because it is one, and looks at the future of Russian federalism in regards to Tatarstan.

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  • blogTO notes that TTC tunnels will get WiFi in 2018.

  • Border Thinking's Laura Augustín shares some of Edvard Munch's brothel paintings.

  • Centauri Dreams looks at the latest science on fast radio bursts.

  • Dangerous Minds shares some of the sexy covers of Yugoslavian computer magazine Računari.

  • Dead Things looks at the latest research into dinosaur eggs.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper suggesting that a high surface magnetic field in a red giant star indicates a recent swallowing of a planet.

  • Language Log shares an ad for a portable smog mask from China.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money takes issue with the idea of NAFTA being of general benefit to Mexico.

  • Torontoist looks at the history of Toronto General Hospital.

  • Window on Eurasia is skeptical about an American proposal for Ukraine, and suggests Ossetian reunification within Russia is the next annexation likely to be made by Russia.

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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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NOW Toronto's Jonathan Goldsbie examines how Toronto journalist Craig Silverman helped expose the existence of the phenomenon of fake news.

It’s generally irresponsible to attribute an election result to any one thing – but in a presidential race as close as the one the U.S. just had, any one thing could conceivably have made the difference.

In addition to especially alarming factors such as apparent Russian intervention and the resurgence of white nationalism, another theme has dominated the post-election narrative: the ascendant influence of fake news. All of a sudden, it has become difficult to consider American political dynamics without wading in to questions of epistemology – how do people know the things they know, and how do those beliefs shape not only their positions on issues but understandings of reality at large?

Unlike an election result, however, this shift in political discourse can be credited to a discrete cause: the work of Toronto-based BuzzFeed reporter Craig Silverman, whose investigations into the propagation and effects of accidental propaganda have rippled through the world’s most powerful institutions.

Late last month, for example, The New Yorker reported that U.S. President Barack Obama “talked almost obsessively” about Silverman’s pre-election story (co-authored with British researcher Lawrence Alexander) that exposed the fake-news racket centred in the small town of Veles, Macedonia, where teenagers discovered that tricking American Facebook users into clicking and sharing pro-Trump hoaxes could be a ridiculously profitable enterprise. Another of Silverman's pieces, showing that fake election news had outperformed legitimate stories on Facebook, had such thorough penetration into the zeitgeist that Reuters reported even Pope Francis had characterized the spreading of fake news as a sin. (The Vatican's English-language transcript of his remarks, translated from the original Spanish, however, leaves some doubt as to whether he was actually alluding to the same phenomenon.)

When BuzzFeed News named Silverman its media editor at the start of December – promoted from his former role as founding editor of BuzzFeed Canada – the site’s editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, told Fortune that fake news is the type of story that "Craig has been kind of preparing for for some time – maybe his whole life."
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The National Post shares Vito Pilieci's Postmedia News article noting the advantage that lower energy costs gave Québec over Ontario.

Internet giant Amazon Web Services has opened a cluster of data centres near Montreal due to the ready availability and cost of hydro-electric power in Quebec.

The company, which is notoriously secretive about its data centres, said there are now at least two data centres just outside Montreal to offer web-based services to the “Canada Region.” Canada joins 15 other regions around the globe from which Amazon is running data services on behalf of clients.

Teresa Carlson, vice-president of public sector with Amazon Web Services, said the cost and availability of hydro-electric power is ultimately what made Amazon choose Quebec as its Canadian home.

“We picked the area that we did because of the hydro power,” said Carlson. “We did find them (Quebec) to be very business friendly.”

Carlson said Amazon conducted a thorough review of various options within Canada, including Ontario, that involved looking at a number of factors, including the price of electricity. She also said Amazon is keen to source green energy where it can as the company is attempting to get all of its data centres on renewable energy sources.
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  • The Big Picture shares photos from ruined Aleppo.

  • Centauri Dreams looks at the new explanation for the ASASSN-15h, of a Sun-mass star torn apart by a fast-rotating black hole.

  • The Crux looks at the condition of hyperemesis gravidarum.

  • Dangerous Minds shares the dark and Satanic art of an Argentine artist.

  • Joe. My. God. reports on one man's displeasure that Malta has banned ex-gay "therapy".

  • Language Log looks at where British law confronts linguistics.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money imagines an alternate history where Jill Stein leaves the presidential race and gives Hillary Clinton a needed victory.

  • Peter Rukavina recalls the simple yet effective early version of Hansard for the Island legislative assembly.

  • Mark Simpson notes the objectification of men on the new Baywatch.

  • Window on Eurasia fears the violence of an open Russian imperialism and looks at the confusion over how to recognize the 1917 revolution.

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I don't quite know how I happened getting in so deep with Facebook Editor. I have always been annoyed to find, whenever I've checked in on Facebook or Instagram to a particular location, that other people have assigned incorrect names to a particular location--misspellings, the wrong names, sometimes altogether the wrong information--so maybe it was happenstance. I don't think it was a matter of my being caught by the complicated ranking system of people participating in Facebook Editor. Maybe I simply was bored and saw no reason not to help Facebook in its crowdsourcing of fixing locations.

(Click.)

Whatever combination of factors got me into Facebook Editor, named above or missed somehow by me, I have gotten deep. Right now, I apparently have 387 points. (What are these points, exactly? Dunno.) That leaves me ranking second among the 83 friends who've participated in Facebook, increasingly far ahead of most of them and catching up to leader Bernard. I guess this is good.

I may be overthinking this, but I wonder if this reflects something about the human mind. Can we be enticed to do anything so long as it's presented in the format of a game? That seems to be the case for me. Is this something we should encourage?

Now, if you excuse me, I have to finish my ascent to Level 25. Just 72 edits to go!
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  • At Apostrophen, 'Nathan Smith talks about how he made a tradition out of Christmas tree ornamentation over the past twenty years.

  • blogTO notes that Toronto's waterfront has major E Coli issues.

  • Crooked Timber notes the potential for the recent by-election in London, fought on Brexit and lost by the Tories, to mean something.

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on a search for radio flares from brown dwarfs.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes that China has been installing ecologies on its artificial South China Sea islands.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers what it means to be an ally.

  • The LRB Blog looks at the complex peace negotiations in Colombia.

  • The Map Room Blog shares a map of American infrastructure.

  • Marginal Revolution notes a one-terabyte drive passed from person to person that serves as a sort of Internet in Cuba.

  • Towleroad notes a film project by one Leo Herrera that aims to imagine what prominent AIDS victims would have done and been like had their not been killed by the epidemic.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the complexities surrounding Brexit.

  • Arnold Zwicky has had enough with linguistic prescriptivism.

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CBC News' Shane Ross reports on the ending of an unfunny joke.

A Kensington, P.E.I., police officer has apologized for "bullying" Nickelback and removed a Facebook post he says drew a reaction far beyond his expectations.

Last week, Const. Robb Hartlen posted on the police Facebook site that he would force arrested drivers to listen to Nickelback's 2001 album Silver Side Up as a punishment for drinking and driving. It was just his way of using humour to spread an important message, he said.

CBC P.E.I. published a story about the tongue-in-cheek post, as did other media around the world, including Time magazine and CNN.

"At no time did I think it would go as far as it did," Hartlen said.

On Friday, Hartlen removed the post and in a new Facebook post wrote a public apology to Nickelback.

Hartlen said the message of "Don't drink and drive" began to take a backseat to the "bashing of the band."
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  • Antipope shares a guest essay by an author pointing out how duelling was a social plague.

  • 'Nathan Smith's Apostrophen shares an essay noting that being a Donald Trump supporter who reads gay romance is a contradiction.

  • Beyond the Beyond notes new European Union interest in defense integration.

  • blogTO reports that a Torontonian designed the new Starbucks holiday cup.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly wonders how much our parents shape us.

  • D-Brief looks at Semantic Scholar, an AI tool for scholars.

  • The Dragon's Tales reports on methane humidity near Titan's surface and an active drainage system.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the interest of Florida attorney-general Pam Bondi at the interest of serving in the administration of Donald Trump.

  • Language Hat shares a lovely poem translated from the Russian.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the upsurge in hate crimes post-election in the United States.

  • The LRB Blog shares one man's memories of Leonard Cohen.

  • Marginal Revolution notes the problems of Saudi Arabia.

  • The NYRB Daily notes the largely negative effect of the Internet, and social media, on the election.

  • Savage Minds notes how anthropology teachers can teach the Trump election.

  • Towleroad shares RuPaul's horror at the election.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues the Gary Johnson candidacy helped Hillary, though by not enough.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that a state ideology would make Russia totalitarian.

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  • blogTO notes that York University is slated to have an architecturally interesting student centre.

  • Centauri Dreams reports on new imaging of various protoplanetary disks.

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on observations finetuning what is known about HD 209458b.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the happiness of at least one white supremacist leader with the Trump victory.

  • Language Hat reports on medieval prejudices about collectors of books.

  • Language Log explains its silence over the Trump election.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money celebrates Doctor Strange.

  • Marginal Revolution suggests anxiety over technological change gave Trump an advantage over Clinton.

  • The NYRB Daily considers when it is proper to put a work through a new translation.

  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the week's activities in the solar system.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer is alarmed by the description of the nascent California separatist movement in an article, as the mechanisms are described.

  • Peter Rukavina shares of a map about Internet accessibility on Prince Edward Island.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy praises Obama's recent statements.

  • Window on Eurasia argues Trump's policies might hurt Russia and notes Ukrainians who hope his government will not be hostile to Ukraine.

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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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  • blogTO notes a photo series celebrating the corner stores of Toronto and reports on massive condo towers planned for Yonge and College.

  • Centauri Dreams notes the antimatter sail as a potential future propulsion technology.

  • D-Brief notes the beginning of a search for an Earth-like planet orbiting Alpha Centauri A or B.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that it is Ecuador that disrupted Assange's Internet connection.

  • Language Hat looks at distinctions between fiction and non-fiction in different literatures.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes how Republicans are concerned for the future of the US Supreme Court and links to Matt Taibbi's article suggesting that Trump might reinforce the existing American system.

  • Maximos62 links to his new audiobook of tales from Asia and the Pacific.

  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the relationship between rapidly rotating regular satellite and their tides.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests that language shift among the Kalmyks to Russia has not weakened their ethnic identity, and shares arguments that Tatarstan and Bashkortostan must be brought back into line in with Russia's national government.

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Teresa Wright of Charlottetown's The Guardian reports about the Prince Edward Island auditor general's report about the many flaws and omissions in the Ghiz government's e-gaming venture. The whole article makes for compelling, if upsetting, reading.

The P.E.I. government’s controversial e-gaming venture was riddled with inappropriate secrecy and an overall disregard for taxpayers’ interests, says the province’s auditor general.

Jane MacAdam’s special audit into the province’s e-gaming scandal was released Wednesday.

It is a scathing indictment of the venture pursued by the former Ghiz administration, which aimed to make Prince Edward Island an Internet gambling regulator for the country.

“Throughout this report, there are numerous examples of non-compliance with legislation, policies and controls,” MacAdam says in her report.

“A number of decisions and actions demonstrated a lack of due regard for transparency and accountability.”
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  • The Boston Globe's The Big Picture shares some of that newspaper's best papers from last month.

  • blogTO shares Nuit Blanche photos.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly talks about the divide between journalism and content creation.

  • Centauri Dreams considers the Rosetta probe.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of the suitcases left by patients at an American insane asylum.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper suggesting extraterrestrial civilizations could be discovered via leakage from the power-beaming systems of their spacecraft.

  • Far Outliers notes the 19th century feminization of domestic service in the United Kingdom and describes the professionalization of nursemaids.

  • Joe. My. God. notes Wikileaks' shift of its big reveal to Berlin.

  • Language Log checks to see if there is any way Guiliani's statement that no woman would be a better president than Trump could be parsed in a way favourable to him.

  • The Map Room Blog links to an article describing an ambitious plan to map the ocean floor.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at an electoral reform proposal in Maine.

  • James Nicoll links to his review of Deighton's SS-GB
  • .
  • Torontoist reports about the Toronto food bank system.

  • Towleroad features a guest article describing Donald Trump's misogyny towards his partners.

  • Window on Eurasia considers the cost to Russia of hosting multiple major international sports tournaments.

  • Arnold Zwicky reports on The New York Times's Spanish-language editorial.

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  • blogTO shares the new face of the Broadview Hotel.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly writes about the joys of the unscreened life.

  • Dead Things reports on a study suggesting that although humans are violent by the standards of mammals, we are among the least violent primates.

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on the discovery of five sizable planets orbiting HIP 41378.

  • Language Log reports on the perils of 7 and 9 in Cantonese.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money considers the usefulness of The Battle of Algiers.

  • The Planetary Society Blog reacts to the Elon Musk proposal for colonizing Mars.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer responds briefly to the question of what Mexico can do about Trump.

  • Window on Eurasia notes how the Russian invasion of Ukraine has spurred new arms purchases throughout the eastern half of Europe, even in Belarus.

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